Quickies

Quickies: After School Satan, humpbacks vs. orcas, and the Spiritualist origins of Ghostbusters

  • An After School Satan Club may be coming to your kid’s elementary school – “The curriculum for the proposed after-school clubs emphasizes the development of reasoning and social skills. The group says meetings will include a healthful snack, literature lesson, creative learning activities, a science lesson, puzzle solving and an art project. Every child will receive a membership card and must have a signed parental­ permission slip to attend.”
  • Humpback whales around the globe are mysteriously rescuing animals from orcas – “Perhaps the most stunning aspect of this behavior is that it’s not just a few isolated incidents. Humpback whale rescue teams have been witnessed foiling killer whale hunts from Antarctica to the North Pacific. It’s as if humpback whales everywhere are saying to killer whales: pick on someone your own size!”
  • New study finds that men are often their own favorite experts on any given subject – “What they found, first of all, is that self-citation represents a significant chunk of all academic citations. There were 8.2 million citations contained in the 1.5 million papers they studied. Nearly 775,000 of those citations, or about 10 percent of them, were of authors citing their own work.”
  • The spiritualist origins of Ghostbusters – “Despite the involvement and support of influential men, Spiritualism remained primarily the work of women, and coincided with the first major feminist movement in the United States.”
Amanda

Amanda

Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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11 Comments

  1. August 4, 2016 at 9:25 am —

    If scientists are set on attributing humanistic behaviors to humpbacks, why not posit that humpbacks are dicks and want orcas to starve?

    I mean, it’s probably not true but it seems as plausible as saying they are being altruistic to these other animals.

    Actually, I take that back; since the animals being saved are varied and the animal they are being saved from are always orcas it seems more likely that they are targeting the common denominator. That is unless they “study” missed, or failed to mention, other animals that these humpbacks save prey from.

    It’s kind of facetious, I know, but it seems that these scientists wanted to give good attributes to the whales rather than bad.

    That might speak more to human nature than to whale nature. Just saying.

    • August 4, 2016 at 10:00 pm —

      I came across a story (sorry, no citation available) that back in the days of whaling (probably 19th century) an Australian whaling station found that orcas would aid them in hunting the big whales. So (if you believe my heresay) this enmity goes back over 100 years.

      Self-citing of papers: been there, done that, will do it again. Self citing is expected and not in itself a problem, but there is also such a thing as gratuitous self-citing, which is not so good. That there is a big gender bias in self citing news to me, and it is worth doing more research to find out why. One thing I’d point out is that if you have a secure job, you can make a long term multi-paper research project of your favourite topic, giving lots of self-citation opportunity, whereas if you are bouncing around a succession of 2-3 year postdoc positions, you’re working on someone else’s favourite topic, and changing topic frequently.

      • August 4, 2016 at 10:09 pm —

        Update: I’ve found a citation for the whalers+orca cooperation:
        http://killersofeden.com/

        This source says the orca and humans cooperatively hunted baleen whales, of which humpbacks are an example.

  2. August 4, 2016 at 9:35 am —

    For an article about scientific papers there are an awful lot of idiotic comments to the WaPo article.

    • August 4, 2016 at 4:59 pm —

      Yeah but, no but, that IS the way the system works and I agree it totally sucks, but self promotion is the name of the game.

      I was taught that you have to spread yourself THIN in order to maximise the number of publications.

      As one of the commenters points out, each study raises questions that you subsequently answer in separate studies, each of which necessarily refers to the original.

      Maybe the conclusion could be that women scientists need to self-promote more in order to be recognised?

      • August 4, 2016 at 5:26 pm —

        All that goes 100% against the grain to me, personality-wise, which is why I am not a particularly successful scientist, nor do I wish to be, beyond being successful enough to keep my family fed.

  3. August 4, 2016 at 9:38 am —

    Humpback vs Orca … Will this be the new focus of the next season of “Whale Wars”?

  4. August 4, 2016 at 9:56 am —

    I love that Ghostbusters took a shot at the unfair man-baby criticism it is getting.

    “I feel like the slime is after me personally.” – Erin Gilbert

    Or maybe I’m just reading too much into this quote.

    • August 4, 2016 at 10:00 am —

      Hahaha, I hadn’t thought of that but that might be my new favorite thing about the movie.

      • August 4, 2016 at 10:30 am —

        Well, that and the fact that Kevin was sort of brilliant, but only one time.

        “You know, an aquarium is a submarine for fish.” – Kevin

  5. August 4, 2016 at 10:26 am —

    And once again the comments of the After School Satan Club show the need for the After School Satan Club.

    If God is so powerful, why can’t he just turn all instances of the word Satan into Santa or Satin or something? I’m sure the After School Satin Club would have far less impact.

    C’mon man, do something already!

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