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Links 1 through 10 of 300 by Chad Orzel tagged social-science

I wish more discussions of fraternities and sororities were conducted with this level of thoughtfulness and respect. Also, the application of these ideas to stuff like "What's the matter with Kansas?" is left as an exercise for the reader.

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New theoretical ideas and empirical research show that very young children’s learning and thinking are strikingly similar to much learning and thinking in science. Preschoolers test hypotheses against data and make causal inferences; they learn from statistics and informal experimentation, and from watching and listening to others. The mathematical framework of probabilistic models and Bayesian inference can describe this learning in precise ways. These discoveries have implications for early childhood education and policy. In particular, they suggest both that early childhood experience is extremely important and that the trend toward more structured and academic early childhood programs is misguided.

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A goofy phenomenological model of presidential election vote share.

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Mathews added, "we know that COACHE provosts' concerns about associate professors were well-founded." For all the effort of faculty members to win tenure, the results suggest great frustrations after tenure. "These data and other researchers' work are revealing how all of the mentorship, the protections of time, the clear policies and formal milestones that faculty had as assistant professors are lifted when they become associates," Mathews said. "Suddenly, they're teaching more, they're serving on more committees, they're even serving as department chairs -- yet the criteria for promotion to full professor have nothing to do with these activities. Many of them are like the newly tenured professor whom I recently witnessed, while setting up his laptop for a presentation, that his e-mail client showed over 3,000 unread e-mails. He is highly regarded in his field, employed at an Ivy League institution, well-liked by students -- yet completely overwhelmed and alone."

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The lecture this was for is over, but it's probably still a useful guide to research about the way science is communicated.

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Congress now speaks at almost a full grade level lower than it did just seven years ago, with the most conservative members of Congress speaking on average at the lowest grade level, according to a new Sunlight Foundation analysis of the Congressional Record using Capitol Words.

Of course, what some might interpret as a dumbing down of Congress, others will see as more effective communications. And lawmakers of both parties still speak above the heads of the average American, who reads at between an 8th and 9th grade level.

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Basically, Andrew sat for about 20 minutes apiece in three galleries of the Cleveland Museum of Art, and as visitors entered he tracked their route and made notations of where they stopped and for how many seconds. A line indicates a path of movement. A dot indicates when someone stopped to look. The dots are accompanied by little notations indicating how many seconds the viewer stood still. There are also other scattered notations indicating the sex and general age of the people who were being tracked.

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After summarizing some illustrative findings (e.g., on the biasing impact of cultural outlooks on perceptions of scientific consensus; click on image for slides), I offered "four principles":

First, science communication is a science.

Seems obvious--especially after someone walks you through 3 or 4 experiments -- but in fact, the assumption that sound science communicates itself is the origin of messes like the one over climate change. As I said, NAS is now committed to remedying the destructive consquences of this attitude, but one can't overemphasize how foolish it is to invest so much in policy-relevant science and then adopt a wholly ad hoc anti-scientific stance toward the dissemination of it.

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Using the same American Community Survey for 2009 and 2010 as Fogg and Harrington, but focussing on actual unemployment by major, Carnevale, Cheat and Strohl (Hard Times, Georgetown University, Center for Education and the Workforce, 2011) have similar findings (p. 7). Recent college graduates with a business major have a 7.4% unemployment rate, those with an arts degree have an 11.1% rate (with social science majors having an 8.9% rate and humanities/liberal arts students having a 9.4% rate). Combining these two studies, it is clear that being an arts major does not compel one to, at best, discussing supersizing with customers, nor does being a business major totally guard against that. Yes, business majors do better in the job market, and they make more money in their entry level positions than do arts majors ($39,000/yr vs. $$30,000/yr), but is this enough to tell everyone to flock into undergraduate business schools?

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The bell curve powerfully shapes how we think of human performance: If lots of students or employees happen to show up as extreme outliers — they're either very good or very bad — we assume they must represent a skewed sample, because only a few people in a truly random sample are supposed to be outliers.

New research suggests, however, that rather than describe how humans perform, the bell curve may actually be constraining how people perform. Minus such constraints, a new paper argues, lots of people are actually outliers.

Human performance, by this account, does not often fit the bell curve or what scientists call a normal distribution. Rather, it is more likely to fit what scientists call a power distribution.

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