Nobel Nonpublication

The weather beavers have been more like weather trolls lately, or whichever nasty little creature that thunder and lightning is blamed on in somebody’s mythology. The nastiness has not yet set in this morning but I have a suspicion that all that is needed is some waiting and it will arrive.

On the matter of nasty trolls, I ran across an article about the statistics of publication by nobel laureates. [Link] It seems they have more difficulty getting published after the award than before.

“While their work is still successful, laureates find their later work doesn’t get the same level of attention and acceptance as their earlier work.”

I can honestly say this doesn’t surprise me although not for the reasons cited.

“For one, the more prestigious journals may not want to publish more articles on the Nobel winning idea, figuring the new work is too related to what has already been published.”

The reasons I would offer have to do with scientists, not science per se. I base this on my experience as a reviewer and serving on editorial committees. One of the primary concerns of refereed journals is to maintain an actuality as well as a perception of integrity. Hence, manuscripts submitted by Nobel laureates are going to be subjected to more scrutiny rather than less, as would be the situation in less rigorous disciplines.

On the reviewer side, it is also harder for the author. Many reviewers of my acquaintance decline to review manuscripts of discipline celebrities. They are concerned that the review will be too demanding. Other do review and the acceptance process is always lengthy and complicated by the higher standard that these submissions are held to so that integrity may be upheld.

So it is harder for the manuscripts of Nobel laureates and other discipline celebrities to gain acceptance because in effect they are held to a higher standard. Simply and colloquially put, it is a matter of “Caesar’s Wife”.

What is a more intriguing question is why the researchers missed this? Is it because they are psychologists, which is a fuzzy technical discipline, or because of journalistic censorship in the reporting? The world Wonders.

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Natural Cynicism

Ah!, the glories of climate change – and the denial thereof. The last week has been an expression of winter resurgent and now we get to experience a week of summer anticipated. Rather reminds me of traveling to Fort Leavenworth. It is lovely in fall and spring but the other fifty weeks of the year not so.

We have a bit of a chance to access some of the tabs that have accumulated this week, starting with a very thrilling Scientific American article [Link] [1] that contends that John Horgan is a putz. Not that we didn’t know that, but it is always both encouraging and a bit suspicious when our more extreme assessments seem to be verified by someone else. In this instance it isn’t about the death of science but about the role of carbohydrates in causing obesity and heart disease and  raft of other ills. Seems Horgan poo-pooed the idea and now mounting evidence, including arterial disease in Egyptian mummies – and no, they didn’t say which dynasty, which is definitely a level of journalism consistent with both SA and JH – is contending with his declamations. One more anecdote that indicates we need to eat a balanced diet – regardless of what our medicalists tell us perhaps?

Next, from Northwestern U researchers, we have a survey that indicates that african-american students are more likely to tweet ((as in use twitter) than are other students. [Link] The numbers were 0.37 to 0.21 of sample populations, which is almost a ratio of 2:1. This mayseem a juicy pseudo-racist [2] finding but the real joy was in a rather luscious quote,

“Students of all races with an interest in celebrity and entertainment news were more likely to become Twitter users whereas someone with an interest in science and research was less likely to become a Twitter user.”

from which we may opine/hypothesize that bogs tweet and nerds don’t. One more of the benefits of being rational, I suppose.

But it is a bit of a disappointment that we can’t really posit the hypothesis that tweeting is the result of inadequate neandertal DNA.

Next, we have another piece of research from Duke U [Link] that indicates that if you have strong religious experiences, your brain may be shrinking faster than normal. Sadly the same seems to be the case with those of no religionist affiliation as well. Evidently attending services without conviction is beneficial in retaining brain volume.

Next, efforts by NASA and an astronomy group in Australia have published findings that indicate dark energy is indeed expanding the universe. [Link] So while brains are shrinking, distances between galaxies is increasing. So hope for intelligent neighbors is definitely on the downswing.

And lastly, rogue planets. These have been the stuff of science fiction lore for years, the one from Poul Anderson’s van Rijn series coming to mind. But these stories have always considered these to be rare and now the boffins tell us they are common.[Link] So now we have yet another thing to worry about. The likelihood of a Bronson Alpha event ala When World Collide has now increased by orders-of-magnitude.

So maybe climate change denial ain’t so bad. We may as well just curl up and bake now rather than be frozen when the planets collide. Have a nice weekend and think about that when you fire up the rill to burn meat.

[1]  It is rare, exceedingly rare that a Scientific American article is intriguing, thrilling is rarer than to-date observations of Higgs bosons.
[2]  Racist in the sense that the term and concept is misused by government and much of Amerikan society, not the accurate meaning of the term.

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College Curmudgeon 3bis

Is democracy consumerism, at least in the former’s modern form? Or is consumerism democracy? And what is their relation to celebrityism?

There is undoubtedly an academic somewhere who set all of this straight by proper definition and dialectic, but, of course, if there are two then resolution is impossible.

My parents used to tell me that they – their generation by extension – invented consumerism. That the poverty of the “Great Depression” instilled an urge to provide children with all the things they could not have. I never raised the argument that unless they knew they were missing something this urge would not occur.

But we may confidently observe that all of these came out of the “Great Depression” and the second “Great War.” And thus we also have to acknowledge that the argument presented previously that democratization of college led to its current bankruptcy is simplistic and incomplete.

As the Gomer character would say on the Andy Griffith television program, “Surprise, surprise!”

Just as we can argue that there is some strong coupling between consumerism and celebrityism, that as we have more goods we want more titillation and as we see more elite consumers, which is basically what celebrities are, we declaim that we should be able to consume as they do, so too may we argue that these have their impact on college, despite the fact that there are no college celebrities.

Celebrities do not do mundane things. Despite efforts in the last election campaign for chief executive and organized religion, plumbers and carpenters are not celebrities. Nor are philosophers and literarists, but the perception is that people with college degrees lead more glamorous, admired, and cunsumptive lives. And hence part of the demand for the democratization of college.

It is also attractive to consider that consumerism and celebrityism are self licking ice cream cones. Which may have some relation to the growing perception that college is not really a road to consumption and notoriety but to sameness and drudgery.