Links for May 2021

A recent trend has people posting their ideal political platform. But no platform can beat Angelyne for Governor — she has the key to California. What is her secret? A lady never tells, but we suspect she is reading the Chinese classics. In The Way of the General, Zhuge Kongming says, “One person can teach ten, ten people can teach a hundred, a hundred people can teach a thousand, a thousand can teach ten thousand.” Angelyne says, “California will hire social workers to select individuals and help them one by one … Once a person has been homed/established, California will hire that person to help relocate another. And the social workers shall continue on, as well. And that becomes exponential! Voila! Everybody has a home and the streets are clean!”  Truly Angelyne is a 仁人.

Cinnamon and Avocados are closely related to each other. Bananas are more closely related to lilies and skunk cabbage than they are to papayas. Aloe vera is closely related to asparagus and onions, but not at all related to cacti, which are closely related to beets. There is no such thing as a tree.

A little birdie on twitter told me that there’s a group on discord that are trying to breed quail back into dinosaurs. We wish them success but also, uh… be careful guys.

Also from twitter: “I cannot stress enough just how much you need to stop whatever it is you are doing and watch the opening titles of this documentary. I promise you’re not ready for what’s coming.”

We love stories about what questionable research practices look like from the inside, not only because it humanizes the people involved (most of them don’t mean to do anything wrong) but also because it helps make it obvious how easy it can be to slip into this kind of behavior if you’re not careful. Here’s a new one from Devon Price, who was in graduate school right in the middle of the revolution.

Joe Hilgard, famous (or infamous) psychology research methods gadfly, recently left academia for a job as a data scientist, and writes about it in a post titled “Smell you later”. While we disagree with the author’s cocktail choices, his candor is quite interesting in saying, “I feel that a lot of the research that we do doesn’t matter.” We suspect many academics feel similarly, but it’s very rare to hear someone say it, even when they’re leaving.

One of the most interesting things about scams and grifts is just how audacious they can be while still getting away with it. Enter the Quadro Tracker, a bomb / drug / person / weapon / lost golf ball-detection device from the 90s that was sold at prices of up to $8,000 and turned out to be a box of dead ants. This does make cops and school districts look like a bunch of suckers, but I wonder if the real mark wasn’t everyone else. Seems like cops and school officials would love to have an excuse to accuse or search anyone they like, backed up by an $8,000 price tag. If the real nefarious purpose of the device was to manufacture reasonable suspicion and probable cause, I’m afraid to say that it may have worked (for a while).

New in cognitive science: If I fits I sits: A citizen science investigation into illusory contour susceptibility in domestic cats (Felis silvestris catus). In this project, Gabriella Smith and colleagues show that cats want to sit in imaginary boxes as well as real ones. The study is also notable for crowdsourcing citizen science, i.e. using bored cat-owners in pandemic lockdown to collect data.

Also new: researchers at University College London gave people a third thumb to see what it would do to their brain. The brain results are meh but you have to see the videos of this thumb in action. [Insert joke about being “all thumbs”.]

Finally, some news about us, the blog: We’re looking for an agent who can represent nonfiction trade books. We already have one manuscript written which early readers have called a “fascinating, comprehensive review” and “a wild new paper that blew my mind”. If you are an agent or know an agent who might be interested in representing us, please contact us!

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