Sunday Long Reads: Alternative Science Facts , Health Disparity Fixes and Winners!
Welcome to our snazzy new digs here at EdgeForScholars. It’s pretty awesome to be on the other side of link checking and launching, so I thought I welcome you to my blog with a few things that caught my attention this week.
Some of you might have noticed we got a new president. Some of you may still be rocking slowly in a corner at the prospect that we have a new president. That’s okay. I disagree with many things that our current president has said about women, minorities, reproductive rights and science. See….I can do that here. And no lightning bolt is coming from the administrative sky to fry my squirrel meat.
Sometimes the political chafe is going to rub really close to my science, collaborations, sanity and ability to mentor students. I need them to be safe. I need to be safe. And my hope, more than anything is that you will find Edge for Scholars to be a safe place to ask really hard questions because science is hard and you can’t do it alone.
One new phrase that has arisen from this political season is ‘Alternative Facts.’ That’s a phrase that makes sense to me as a scientist. Someone can cite a subset of your statistics and misrepresent the model and predictions that are most reasonable. “Alternative Facts” as it is being used is not what I just described. If you look at data and fail to describe your analysis but just guess, we call that ‘guessing.’ And guessing is often wrong. Just look at all those poor defensive line coaches for the Green Bay Packers. Lots of bad guessing went into what they did today, amirite?
But for serious, let’s stop the debate on ‘Alternative Facts’ before guessing is considered on par with research and data. Let’s stop it the way that the BBC did with their coverage of climate change. Climate change is real and it’s happening and the BBC no longer lets ‘climate deniers’ have equal on air time. Because not all views are equal. Some are just wrong. And how refreshing would it be if rather than squawking with full time paid squawking heads, when you find an ‘Alternative Fact’ that is actually a guess, you commit to calling it out simply but with the authority your education gives you. “You are wrong and ill informed. I am a scientist. I know the facts.” This follow up would go a long way to bolstering @JacquelnnGill‘s outstanding #USofScience twitter campaign of Inauguration Day. For more protips on what it will take to survive and thrive in troubling science times, see my earlier blog Nine New Year’s Resolutions for Academics.
You can knock one of the ‘to do’ things off the list by joining us here. My goal as reigning uber blogger here is to be dethroned rapidly. Before you break out the pitchforks, I’m not thinking of any kind of dethroning you might have seen in Game of Thrones. (Meep.) More like hoping to be dethroned by folks like you – people who have a voice locally, on Twitter, Reddit or blogs that may be a bit in the WordPress wilderness. You’ll find your WordPress friendly format here and hopefully some friends and mentors. You can rock some short, smart and pithy posts using your in real life name or a pseudonym (pseud). I recommend blogging under the pseud “Vice Chancellor Katherine Hartmann“.
Before you all run back off to Twitter, grant writing or detailing your chairman’s BMW, take a gander at this sweet post over at the New York Times entitled “A Fix for Gender Bias in Health Care? Check.” Long story short…clinicians’ implicit biases are leading to worse outcomes for women and minorities. Like the tricky little secret that men are more likely to get x-rays when complaining of irritable bowel symptoms. Women? They will get tranquilizers and life coaching. Not kidding here. So, ladies, while your bowels slide out of your body, you can take comfort in 0.5 mg of Klonopin and a deep breathing technique.
While you chew on that one, we are going to continue to pull some folks into our Lucky Duck prizes….randomly and less randomly, giving away prizes like Amazon gift cards to commenters, registered users and bloggers. Congrats to last week’s winners!
If you think you can do a better job as president, you can find out here. The Fighty Squirrel scored a lowly 35% effective at taking on the big job, but maybe you’ll do better?