Are most published research findings false?

Are most published research findings false?

There has been much wringing of hands of late over findings that many scientific findings are proving impossible to reproduce – meaning, they were probably wrong. Coverage in the news, concern expressed by the President's council of scientific advisors, and a call to action by Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), all suggest that this is a problem that the scientific community needs to understand and address.

In the recent issue of the journal Nature, Francis Collins and Lawrence Tabak (the deputy director of the NIH) outline their plan for improving scientific reproducibility, emphasizing a need for improving experimental design, statistical analysis, and transparency.

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Linky and the Brain: April 30, 2013

Linky and the Brain_small

Linky and the Brain_small We're doing some expanding here at the Neuroblog. In the next few months, readers will start to notice some new names at the top of posts. This expansion of our authorship is due to a newly formalized partnership with the Stanford-based science communication group NeuWrite West.

As part of this expansion, Nick Weiler and I will trade off authorship of a weekly feature, highlighting the science-related internet content that caught our eyes the previous week. I'd like to encourage folks out there to use the comments to jump in and share any items they enjoyed.

With this introduction, I'll debute entry #1 in our new link-sharing feature. 

Absolutely incredible slow-motion video of barn owl hunting

This came to my attention both via the internets and several folks who shared it with me on Facebook. A stunning video of a barn owl using an auditory cue to strike at prey. The video starts out with a side perspective, but keep watching past the first example as the video switches to showing a bottom up angle that highlights the view of the descending owl from the perspective of the prey. Looking at the focused gaze of the swooping owl, with its outstretched talons drawing inexorably closer, I realize its probably a blessing that mice can't see so well.

Interested in the neural mechanisms of how barn owls localize sound? How maps of visual and auditory space are aligned in the barn owl brain to provide a neural substrate for the terrible precision of the bird's ability to locate prey? I'll direct the curious to the work of Mark Konishi (Caltech), as well as Eric Knudsen (Stanford, my graduate advisor, former postdoc of Konishi).

The Evolution of the Country Mouse and the City Mouse

As usual, Carl Zimmer shows science writers how its done in his post highlighting research into "urban evolution". In particular the work of Jason Munshi-South (Baruch College), who studies evolutionary trajectories of white footed-mouse populations in, and around, NYC.

The art of the ambiguous conference poster abstract

In honor of the rapidly approaching SfN 2013 poster abstract deadline, Dr. Becca (@doc_becca) on writing an abstract in the absence of any data (original publication date, last year). A subject near and dear to my heart right now (damn you, preliminary data! I wish you were a fully-fleshed out scientific story already.)

U.S. Lawmaker Proposes New Criteria for Choosing NSF Grants

As a researcher personally funded by the NSF, this Science Insider news article gave me all sorts of feelings.

And some opposition to the proposed changes, from President Obama.

A Tale Of Mice And Medical Research, Wiped Out By A Superstorm

A more tragic topic - NPR covers the tragic losses suffered by Gord Fishell (and other researchers at NYU) when Superstorm Sandy caused flooding in an offsite animal facility.

Battlestar Pedagogica: Using Science Fiction to teach Science!

As an avid science fiction reader (and BSG viewer), I enjoyed reading this post on using science fiction to teach scientific concepts in the classroom. In my experiences chatting about neuroscience with non-neuroscientists (especially my computer science friends), I've found referencing sci-fi concepts to be a remarkably useful way to a) capture attention/interest and b) generate fascinating and complex discussions of current neuroscience.

Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate.

Neil deGrasse Tyson moderates the Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate. This years topic: Nothingness. The panel: Lawrence Krauss (theoretical physics, ASU), J. Richard Gott (astrophysics, Princeton), veteran science journalists Jim Holt (science journalist) and Charles Seife (science journalist), and Eve Silverstein (physics, Stanford). (via io9)

Academic Fraud, a profile of social psychologist Diederik Stapel in the NYTimes Magazine.

A long read from the NYTimes Magazine, on Dutch social psychologist Diederik Stapel who fabricated results in at least 55 of his published articles. Written by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee. (via Cori Bargmann, @betenoire1)

Ending on a Happy Note: First Steps in Border Collie Sheepdog Training.

From the twitter account of @herdyshepherd1, training a border collie to herd sheep.

And that's all the links I've got for now folks. See you round the web. -Astra

(Fiscal) Cliff Notes

(Fiscal) Cliff Notes

It appears that Congress is doing a pretty good Wile E. Coyote impression.

On Jan 1, 2013, Congress passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA) of 2012, which (among other provisions) ended the Bush tax cuts for citizens making more than $400,000, extended federal unemployment benefits for another year... and put off resolving the budget sequestration issue until March 1. So we absolutely did not go over the cliff. Nope, no-sirree. Glad we avoided that. (That is, as long as we don’t look down...)

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