Daniel Lemire's blog

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Science and Technology links (August 19th, 2018)

  1. Publishing your ideas is a central component of science and scholarship. To make it easier to publish, some companies and organizations have begun to offer pay-to-publish journals and conferences where pretty much anything can get published. A Canadian economics professor has apparently been suspended without pay from his tenured job for writing an article where he documents how common this questionable practice is. His paper is entitled The rewards of predatory publications at a small business school and the abstract is as follows:

This study is the first to compare the rewards of publishing in predatory journals with the rewards of publishing in traditional journals. It finds that the majority of faculty with research responsibilities at a small Canadian business school have publications in predatory journals. In terms of financial compensation, these publications produce greater rewards than many non-predatory journal publications. Publications in predatory journals are also positively correlated with receiving internal research awards. By improving the understanding of the incentives to publish in predatory journals, this research aims to contribute to a better-informed debate on policies dealing with predatory journals.

Another report finds that hundreds of researchers from some of the top universities (Yale, Harvard, Stanford) also use the same trick.

  1. Scientists who publish more have more impact (per publication unit). I wonder whether this includes researchers who use bogus venues to boost their publication lists?
  2. Both children and adults have more allergies than before. I am not sure we know why.
  3. The greatest mathematician of all times, Gauss, was born in poverty from a mother who could barely read.
  4. Sometimes journals retract articles when it is discovered that they are fatally flawed. A third of the citations to these papers appear a year after the retractation and that 90% of these citations are approving.
  5. After correcting for our aging population, cancer rates have fallen 15-20 percent since 1990. The most prevalent cancer types are breast, colon and prostate cancers.
  6. Artificial intelligence conclusively helps doctors assess colonoscopies. Thus we can effectively fight against colon cancer using software.
  7. Violent video games are not associated with violent behavior.
  8. Poor sleep could lead to loneliness.
  9. Editing your genes is hard, but it is comparatively easier to silence one of your genes. The first gene-silencing drug was approved in the USA.
  10. George Monbiot believes that we owe the obesity epidemy to sugar consumption. This model pretty much contradicts everything nutrition academics are telling us.
  11. Broadly speaking, female primates live longer than male primates. I don’t think we know why.
  12. Whenever I travel in the US, I am frustrated by how slow the Internet is. The United States ranks 48 on the speed of their mobile networks. Canada and Australia are much better.
  13. Sony sold three million Playstation VR headsets.
  14. Medical doctors generally do not disclose their conflicts of interest.
  15. Spermidine delays aging in human beings. Green peas and chicken contain spermidine.