Quickies

Quickies: Very Specific Museums, the Electoral College, and How to Spot Fake Data

  • The real reason we have an Electoral College: to protect slave states – “There are several standard stories that I learned in school, and then there’s an emerging story that I find more explanatory. I learned in school that it was a balance between big and small states. But the real divisions in America have never been big and small states; they’re between North and South, and between coasts and the center.”
  • 66 Museums Each Dedicated to One Very Specific Thing – “You might wonder, how can a museum sustain an entire collection of bananas? Or kazoos? Or snoring? These museums mostly grew out of one person’s obsession, who then opened their collection to the public. And in delving deep into these oft-overlooked items, the curators of these niche museums do us a great service.”
  • ‘Aspiring Weatherman’ Allegedly Starts Forest Fire for Facebook Views – “An aspiring internet weatherman in eastern Kentucky was recently arrested on second-degree arson charges after authorities say he intentionally started a wildfire, the Associated Press reports. According to police, 21-year-old Johnny Mullins admitted to setting the fire to bring wider attention to his videos on Facebook.”
  • Anish Kapoor is Banned From Buying the World’s Pinkest Paint – “When you go to purchase the paint, which is available at culturehustle.com for £3.99 ($4.95) for 50g of powder, you are required to make a legal declaration at the checkout stating that ‘you are not Anish Kapoor, you are in no way affiliated to Anish Kapoor, you are not purchasing this item on behalf of Anish Kapoor or an associate of Anish Kapoor. To the best of your knowledge, information and belief this paint will not make its way into the hands of Anish Kapoor.’ “
  • Do you really understand the ‘lion in your living room’? – “America is a nation of cat lovers. In the US, house cats outnumber dogs three to one. But the reality is that cats don’t always bother to love us back — nor do they need to, since we provide for them anyway. How did cats get such a sweet deal?”
  • The First Troll – “The wicked vendettas of Thomas De Quincey, the author of Confessions of an English Opium-Eater
  • There’s a way to spot data fakery. All journals should be using it – “Bolland’s team looked at how much the results Sato reported deviated from what would normally be expected for the patients he was purportedly studying. In other words, when scientists make up data, they tend to do so in a way that’s too smooth and fails to reflect the natural world’s tendency to be messy. Although catching such homogeneity is tough with the naked eye, statistical analysis can find it pretty easily.”

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Mary

Mary

Mary Brock is a scientist who works on drugs you've hopefully never heard of. She enjoys cooking to Blue Grass music, messing with her cats, and hosting the Boston Skeptics' Book Club. She was born in the South but loves living in New England (despite the lack of chocolate chip pizza). Mary does not use Twitter and don't even try to follow her, because she is always looking over her shoulder.

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1 Comment

  1. November 14, 2016 at 2:23 pm —

    Mary,

    I really do wish journalists would be a bit more careful sometimes when it comes to reporting science stories.

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