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Comment: Re:nothing was 'such an issue decades ago' Huh? (Score 3, Insightful) 283

by golden age villain (#48089661) Attached to: Glut of Postdoc Researchers Stirs Quiet Crisis In Science

Anyway, the real problem as explained in this series of Nature articles (http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110420/full/472276a.html), is that the number of faculty positions has remained relatively constant in comparison to the vast increase in the number of PhDs awarded. As mentioned by another poster above, this system was created and nurtured by the people who got their faculty jobs in the 1970s and 1980s when they faced very little competition. To paint a slightly caricatural picture, when research budgets expanded, the people in charge used most of the money to expand their own labs rather than to create more tenured jobs.

Because of that, expectations in terms of published research and obtained funding have kept going up to a point where it is very difficult for young people to become independent. Senior established investigators have the better toys, they can take more risks, they have more money, they populate grant panels and can easily stifle competition and control a good part of the review process in top tier journals.

Comment: Re:Wish I could say I was surprised (Score 2) 178

by golden age villain (#47431273) Attached to: Peer Review Ring Broken - 60 Articles Retracted

For example... maybe one scientist pays another scientist to reproduce his work. Maybe you have big collections of graduate students that as part of their process of getting a degree get assigned some random papers submitted by scientists in their field and they have to reproduce the work.

You don't work in science do you? Being paid for reproducing someone else's work means you are not producing anything original of your own. It doesn't advance your career. Then with respect to your second point, being a graduate student means to perform original research. If your PhD is about reproducing someone else's work, you won't be able to publish anything of significance.

The problem is the system globally: journals, which push for high impact sexy stories; promotion committees, which only look at how many high impact papers scientists have published and at how much funding they have attracted; and finally funding bodies, which only look at publications. If you are not lucky enough to get into a big lab which automatically publishes in high impact journals based on the labhead's reputation, the incentive to game the system is high. You just need to look at all the scandals that have come to light in the last years. You can even buy authorship on papers to which you have contributed nothing (http://www.sciencemag.org/content/342/6162/1035.summary).

Comment: Re:It never stopped (Score 1) 189

by golden age villain (#45816599) Attached to: Citizen Science: Who Makes the Rules?
Not in medicine or human/animal biology. It is impossible because of the limitations on animal research. In most countries, you have to have a licence to perform animal experiments and said licence is usually tied in some way to a project and/or to a specific location within which you can perform the experiments. As an amateur you could still probably work with cell cultures but that means having access to an incubator and a sterile lab. Plus I don't know where you would get your cells in the first place. Insects would be possible though but everything beyond that is a no go without a state-approved licence. And unlike what the summary seems to suggest, legislations regulating animal experiments have been in place for a really long time. For instance in the UK, the Cruelty to Animals Act that originally regulated animal experiments was passed in 1876 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cruelty_to_Animals_Act_1876.

Comment: Brain (Score 4, Interesting) 332

It is really interesting that in absence of auditory and visual sensory input, the brain quickly fills the void with false experiences. It could just go into quiet mode instead. I like the idea that all of what our brain does is building a representation of our environment and trying to anticipate inputs based on this "simulation".

Comment: Re:Most of the problems listed have a single cause (Score 1) 445

by golden age villain (#45406871) Attached to: Bill Gates's Plan To Improve Our World
Religion is a convenient wrapping paper when you need to move the crowds, that's it. As the masses are by definition uneducated and uninterested morons, it's simpler to pitch geopolitical issues in terms easily understood by many rather than telling the truth. Leaving aside natural events, the only two (human) driving factors for history are influence and wealth. These are the things that trigger wars, civil wars, revolutions, migrations, etc... And this will never stop because if you can't compete for resources and influence in a civilised manner, it might be that your best rational option is to use violence. As Emil Cioran wrote "L'heure du crime ne sonne pas en même temps pour tous les peuples. Ainsi s'explique la permanence de l'histoire." which roughly translates to "Murder time does not come at the same time for all nations. This explains the continuity of history."

+ - Google sparks online outrage with forced Google+ signups for YouTube users 3

Submitted by NewtonsLaw
NewtonsLaw (409638) writes "Although Google has copped flak before when they've messed around with the winning formula that is YouTube, the world's most successful and popular video sharing site, I suspect that they weren't ready for the tsunami of anger that has been unleashed against them as a result of their latest changes.

All non-passive YouTube users (ie: anyone who wants to leave or reply to comments on videos) must now create a Google+ identity and link it to their YouTube channel.

Cynics (such as myself) are seeing this as a nasty piece of *evil* blackmail on the part of Google as it attempts to boost the numbers of G+ users and the levels of activity within the G+ community.

Unfortunately, in doing this, Google seems to have completely forgotten the KISS strategy that made their search engine so distinctive and a darling of Net users everywhere. The YouTube comments system was also very simple, very clean and surprisingly effective.

Now however, users must fight their way through the acres of dross that are associated with a Google+ account and although the new system offers a few extra features, much of the essential core functionality of the previous YouTube comments system has been destroyed.

There are presently several online petitions demanding that Google reinstate the old comments system and numerous "rant videos" from upset YouTube users but perhaps the best demonstration of how poorly this forced change has gone down is the like/dislike ratio and the nature of the comments on Google's own YouTube promotional video for these changes.

Owch!"

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