Tag: research

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) After my review appears on Sunday, I post the previous week’s review here on Sunday. More

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Big votes are coming soon on impeachment and in Iowa. Join Jim and Greg as they dive into reports suggesting three Senate Democrats are torn between convicting and acquitting President Trump. But will any of them actually buck their party? They also shudder at reports that the head of the Harvard chemistry department took taxpayer-funded research grants, only to pass his discoveries along to the Chinese for a very handsome sum of money – and he’s not alone. And while Jim generally gives high marks to Florida Sen. Rick Scott, he is exasperated to see Scott launching ads in Iowa which most analysts see as a thinly veiled preview of a 2024 White House bid.

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Greg Ashman distills his wisdom on a complex topic. Is there application to fields besides education? Probably the clearest sign that an expert knows what he or she is on about comes from the way they present their arguments. They will tend to take a position on something and they will explain how the research supports that […]

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Say it isn’t so! Who would have thunk it? Here’s the actual paper. There are some great plots and tables in there. More

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Who Reviews the Reviewers?

 

In an era where politicians and judges increasingly turn to academic research for information about issues that affect us all, “Is this science any good?” is, literally, not just an academic question. As I wrote about in The Federalist, The Unskewed Project — of which I’m the content editor — launched earlier this year to provide an extra layer of review on recently-published social science and on the reporting about it.

Unfortunately […] social science, exists in a highly politicized and media-saturated environment that celebrates novelty over consensus and drama over diligence. When presented with university press releases making bold claims, harried reporters often neglect to ask the kind of informed, challenging, and skeptical questions they’d ask anyone else. Even when journalists intend well, research that confirms popular worldviews tends to be welcomed without reflection. At the same time, scholars whose conclusions are out of fashion are often subjected to hostile scrutiny based less on evidence than ideology…

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I just thought folks here would sleep more soundly knowing this, courtesy of the National Science Foundation. Actually it continues with a study group until adolescence, to possibly verify early signs that kids who get a lot of support in the family feel better about themselves. At least until they hit the real world. Well, […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Flu Season Isn’t a Pandemic – This Time

 

It’s been a pretty nasty flu season by most accounts. This article summarized the outbreak this way:

The flu is widespread, across 49 US states right now. Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that’s the first time that’s happened in their 13 years of tracking the flu. The epidemic has been especially tough among baby boomers. CDC officials say that could be in part because they weren’t exposed to this year’s most aggressive H3N2 strain as children.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Modesty

 

Early in George W. Bush’s first term, I was dining with a friend who didn’t agree with my worldview. He challenged my certitude, allowing that he wasn’t sure about many issues. “Don’t you wonder whether you’re right?” he asked. “Well,” I replied, “If I held an incorrect view, I’d change it to the correct one.”

It was a joke, obviously, but I’ve thought of him many times in the intervening years, as my doubts have multiplied about many questions. In that time, I’ve learned – slower than I should have, admittedly – that it’s often impossible to know what the “right” view is. The world is complicated, and our capacity to understand, while glorious, remains limited.

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At the moment, my current job is conducting outreach to a very narrow spectrum of the 1% to participate in the Federal Reserve Board’s Triennial study ‘The Survey of Consumer Finances. This week I had a person decline involvement with one of the most astute statements I’ve ever heard since working this project. More

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Graduate Students as Protected “Employees”

 

shutterstock_244570738Last week, the National Labor Relations Board held that the graduate students of Columbia University who work as teaching assistants, including any research assistants “engaged in research funded by external grants,” are statutory employees protected under the National Labor Relations Act, and thus entitled to join an elected union of their own choosing. The three-member Democratic majority held in Trustees of Columbia University v. Graduate Workers of Columbia-GWC that graduate students were employees under Section 2(3) of the NLRA. This section provides, most unhelpfully, “the term ‘employee’ shall include any employee,” with exceptions irrelevant to the issue at hand.

The Board’s decision was notable in part because a long list of research universities, led by Yale University, had filed a strong amicus curiae brief, warning against the undesirable consequences that could follow if the Board overruled its 2004 decision involving Brown University that came out the other way because “the services being rendered are predominantly academic rather than economic in nature.” These include coursework, individual research, and teaching under the close supervision of their professors, as part of an integrated program leading to an advanced degree.

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Watching the Education Policy Watchmen

 

shutterstock_47640616Earlier this week, respected researchers from two universities released a four-part study on the effects of Louisiana’s school voucher program. Yet even though the researchers provided a layman’s summary of their findings, media coverage of their study varied significantly.

What makes for better or worse coverage of new research? Well, first the reporter needs to tell us what the study found and why it’s important. She should also provide context for those findings. Are they consistent with or divergent from the findings of previous research? Particularly in the latter case, good reporting will also explore the underlying causes of the findings, especially as the study’s authors understand them. And since reporters rarely have a background in policy research, they should consult with multiple experts who have different views about how to interpret the study’s findings or what their implications are. This being the 21st century, online reporting should contain a direct link to the study so that readers can easily access it to learn more. Finally, because the “tl;dr” crowd often sees only the headline, the headline should be accurate. (Note: editors usually choose the headline, not the reporters.)

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Uneasy Legacy of Henrietta Lacks

 

henrietta-lacksRecently, Rebecca Skloot, author of the major best-seller The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, wrote an impassioned plea in the New York Times, urging people to support sweeping revisions to the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects, which is now under active review in the Department of Health and Human Services. These revisions are directed to the rules that now govern the collection and use of “clinical biospecimens,” which include all the organic substances that are routinely removed from the human body as a consequence of surgery, childbirth, or even normal testing. At first appearance, these materials look like waste products best disposed of in a safe and sanitary manner. But, in fact, they are invaluable in medical research to treat cancer and a host of other genetic and life-threatening diseases.

Without question, the most dramatic illustration of this process involves the so-called HeLa cell line derived from the cancer cells of Henrietta Lacks, an African American tobacco farmer who died of cancer in 1951 at the age of 31. When she was treated at Johns Hopkins Medical Center, her cancer cells were given to the pathologist Dr. George Gey. Gey found to his amazement that, unlike other cancer cells, Lack’s cells were immortal in that they could be cultured and reproduced indefinitely. Within three years of her death, her cell line helped develop the Salk polio vaccine. In the 65 years since Lacks died, about 20 tons of her cell line have been reproduced and distributed worldwide for medical research.

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A journalist at massappeal.com carefully watched the famous “New York Sexual Harassment” video to identify the neighbourhoods and the streets where each incident occurred. The results are striking: More

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