From Carl Bergstrom’s Twitter thread about a new book called How Irrationality Created Modern Science, by Michael Strevens: The Iron Rule from the book is, in Bergstrom’s retelling, “no use of philosophical reasoning in the mode of Aristotle; no leveraging theological or scriptural understanding in the mode of Descartes. Formal scientific arguments must be sterilised, […]

Twice this week, I’d had occasion to write about how science is an immutably human enterprise and therefore some of its loftier ideals are aspirational at best, and about how transparency is one of the chief USPs of preprint repositories and post-publication peer-review. As if on cue, I stumbled upon a strange case of extreme […]

This week in “neither university press offices nor prestigious journals know what they’re doing”: a professor emeritus at Ohio University who claimed he had evidence of life on Mars, and whose institution’s media office crafted a press release without thinking twice to publicise his ‘findings’, and the paper that Nature Medicine published in 2002, cited […]

Is it just me or does everyone see a self-fulfilling prophecy here? For a long time, and assisted ably by the ‘publish or perish’ paradigm, researchers sought to have their papers published in high-impact-factor journals – a.k.a. prestige journals – like Nature. Such journals in turn, assisted ably by parasitic strategies, made these papers highly visible to […]

An engraved bust of Alfred Nobel. Credit: sol_invictus/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Note: A condensed version of this post has been published in The Wire. Around this time last week, the world had nine new Nobel Prize winners in the sciences (physics, chemistry and medicine), all but one of whom were white and none were women. Before the announcements began, Göran Hansson, the Swede-in-chief of these prizes, […]

National Geographic magazines. Credit: Unsplash

Daniel Mansur, the principal investigator of a lab at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina that studies how cells respond to viruses, had this to say about why preprints are useful in an interview to eLife: Let’s say the paper that we put in a preprint is competing with someone and we actually have the same […]