Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon) 2010: Call for Proposals

The Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon) 2010 Call for Proposals is now open!

We would be grateful for help in circulating the call to relevant lists and communities! You can reuse or point to:

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Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon) 2010: Call for Proposals

where: London, UK
when: Saturday 24th [...]

Related posts:

  1. Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon) 2009: Saturday 28th March
  2. Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon) 2009: London, 28th March 2009
  3. Berlin Open Access Conference No. 5: From Practice to Impact: Consequences on Knowledge Dissemination

See original: Open Knowledge Foundation Blog Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon) 2010: Call for Proposals

CCW - Birth of a Climate Crock [A Few Things Ill Considered]

From the "Climate Crock of the Week" videos:

For your viewing and discussing pleasures...

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See original: ScienceBlogs Select CCW - Birth of a Climate Crock [A Few Things Ill Considered]

Conversation and Community in One Laptop Per Child

One Laptop Per Child has helped another person improve a career. Anne Gentle has used her experience in Book Sprints for OLPC to create Conversation and Community: The Social Web of Documentation.

It features last August's pioneering OLPC/Sugar Austin book sprint to create Sugar and XO manuals, that we covered here:OLPC / Sugar - Book Sprint, part I: PreparationsOLPC / Sugar - Book Sprint, Part II: ActionThe printed OLPC Laptop and Sugar manuals have arrived!

And as Web Worker Daily says, the book has lessons for all web workers, whether they are technical writers or not:

See original: One Laptop Per Child News Conversation and Community in One Laptop Per Child

B:III evidence for evolution (which is just a theory)

Having trouble with your eyes? Well, then, let me have a look at it, because I have read stuff about eyes. I'll be prescribing glasses. Contact lenses don't work, because I don't understand how they can be made, so don't wear those. Got worms in your eyeball? Let me get a knife......

William E. Smiddy. (2009) Evolution: Theory, Not Fact. ARCH OPHTHALMOL, 127(11), 1552-1553. info:/

Ebell MH, Siwek J, Weiss BD, Woolf SH, Susman J, Ewigman B, & Bowman M. (2004) Strength of recommendation taxonomy (SORT): a patient-centered approach to grading evidence in the medical literature. American family physician, 69(3), 548-56. PMID: 14971837   Strength of recommendation taxonomy (SORT): a patient-centered approach to grading evidence in the medical literature.


See original: Research Blogging - All Topics - English B:III evidence for evolution (which is just a theory)

New Virtual Issue of Cultural Anthropology on "Security"

special online virtual issue of Cultural Anthropology on the topic of "Security"...

WELKER, M. (2009) “CORPORATE SECURITY BEGINS IN THE COMMUNITY”: Mining, the Corporate Social Responsibility Industry, and Environmental Advocacy in Indonesia. Cultural Anthropology, 24(1), 142-179. DOI: 10.1111/j.1548-1360.2009.00029.x  “CORPORATE SECURITY BEGINS IN THE COMMUNITY”: Mining, the Corporate Social Responsibility Industry, and Environmental Advocacy in Indonesia

LAKOFF, A. (2008) THE GENERIC BIOTHREAT, OR, HOW WE BECAME UNPREPARED. Cultural Anthropology, 23(3), 399-428. DOI: 10.1111/j.1548-1360.2008.00013.x  THE GENERIC BIOTHREAT, OR, HOW WE BECAME UNPREPARED

MASCO, J. (2008) “SURVIVAL IS YOUR BUSINESS”: Engineering Ruins and Affect in Nuclear America. Cultural Anthropology, 23(2), 361-398. DOI: 10.1111/j.1548-1360.2008.00012.x  “SURVIVAL IS YOUR BUSINESS”: Engineering Ruins and Affect in Nuclear America

FELDMAN, I. (2007) DIFFICULT DISTINCTIONS: Refugee Law, Humanitarian Practice, and Political Identification in Gaza. Cultural Anthropology, 22(1), 129-169. DOI: 10.1525/can.2007.22.1.129  DIFFICULT DISTINCTIONS: Refugee Law, Humanitarian Practice, and Political Identification in Gaza

Fassin, D. (2005) Compassion and Repression: The Moral Economy of Immigration Policies in France. Cultural Anthropology, 20(3), 362-387. DOI: 10.1525/can.2005.20.3.362  Compassion and Repression: The Moral Economy of Immigration Policies in France


See original: Research Blogging - All Topics - English New Virtual Issue of Cultural Anthropology on "Security"

Conversation and Community in One Laptop Per Child

One Laptop Per Child has helped another person improve a career. Anne Gentle has used her experience in Book Sprints for OLPC to create Conversation and Community: The Social Web of Documentation.

It features last August's pioneering OLPC/Sugar Austin book sprint to create Sugar and XO manuals, that we covered here:OLPC / Sugar - Book Sprint, part I: PreparationsOLPC / Sugar - Book Sprint, Part II: ActionThe printed OLPC Laptop and Sugar manuals have arrived!

And as Web Worker Daily says, the book has lessons for all web workers, whether they are technical writers or not:

See original: One Laptop Per Child News Conversation and Community in One Laptop Per Child

Where Were You When...? [Uncertain Principles]

I failed to write something on the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall yesterday, partly because I think the other six million blog posts on the subject had it pretty well covered. Another factor, though, was the fact that I don't have the sort of crystal-clear recollection of where I was and what I was doing on that night. I can reconstruct where I must've been-- I was a college freshman, so I would've watched it in the tv room on the second floor of Fayerweather-- but I don't clearly recall the event itself. It's all mixed together with the endless discussions of What It All Meant that came in the weeks that followed, to the point where I don't recall what was the event itself, and what was a later recap of the event.

This is a little embarrassing, as it is one of the Epochal Events of my lifetime. I'm kind of ashamed to admit that I have a clearer recollection of where I was when Buster Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson that same (academic) year (we were in the same tv room, and George D. flipped the tv to HBO (which we didn't get), so we got the sound without the pictures). But memory's an odd wossname.

This does seem like a decent excuse for a reader poll, though. So here's a partial list of Important Events from my lifetime (at least the part that I can recall clearly-- I was around 3 when Nixon resigned, so that doesn't make the list). These are events that I've heard at least one person use in a "I remember where I was when ______" type essay or discussion. Which of them do you remember that way?

Here is an incomplete list of significant events. Check the ones where you remember where you were when you first heard of them:(opinion)

I'm sure I've left something big off the list, too-- probably several somethings, so you get an "Other" blank to add one of your choosing. If you have more than one event to add to the list, you know where the comments are.

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See original: ScienceBlogs Select Where Were You When...? [Uncertain Principles]

Rapid Synthesis of Ibuprofen in a Microreactor

Tyler McQuade (Florida State University, Tallahassee) and coworkers have synthesized a common anti-inflammatory drug in 10 minutes, using a series of adjoining microreactors, in a continuous format. This news feature was written on November 10, 2009....

Bogdan AR, Poe SL, Kubis DC, Broadwater SJ, & McQuade DT. (2009) The continuous-flow synthesis of Ibuprofen. Angewandte Chemie (International ed. in English), 48(45), 8547-50. PMID: 19810066   The continuous-flow synthesis of Ibuprofen.


See original: Research Blogging - All Topics - English Rapid Synthesis of Ibuprofen in a Microreactor

George Will gets something right [The Island of Doubt]

In an otherwise typically error-dominated Newsweek column, George F. Will spelled "minuscule" correctly. So I don't want to read any complaints that Will gets everything wrong each time he writes about climate change.

Of course, that doesn't mean we can't correct his myriad other mistakes. Here's one paragraph, with some necessary editors, just to get us started.

There is much an unremarkable level of debate about the reasons for, and the importance of, the fact that global warming has not increased continued for that long [11 years]. What we know is that computer models did not did predict this. Which matters, a lot, because we are incessantly exhorted to wager trillions uncertain sums of dollars and diminished increased freedom on the proposition that computer models are correctly projecting catastrophic global warming. On Nov. 2, The Wall Street Journal's Jeffrey Ball reported some inconvenient data that is entirely consistent with the prevailing consensus on the theory of anthropogenic climate disruption. Soon after the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change--it shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with the Thinking Man's Thinking Man [George: who calls him this, other than you? -- ed ]--reported that global warming is "unequivocal," there came evidence that the planet's temperature is beginning to cool continuing to rise. [George: temperatures rise or fall, they don't cool or warm; only the subject of measurement warms or cools -- ed] "That," Ball writes, "has led to one point of agreement: The models are imperfect," although climatologists confirmed that the models are performing as well as expected."

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See original: ScienceBlogs Select George Will gets something right [The Island of Doubt]

People who think they are more restrained are more likely to succumb to temptation [Not Exactly Rocket Science]

Will you have that extra chocolate bar when you're worried about your weight? Will you spend that extra hour on the internet when you have other things to do? Will you have that extra drink with an attractive colleague when your partner is waiting at home? Our lives are full of temptations and some of us are better at resisting them than others. But unexpectedly, the very people who think they are most restrained are also most likely to be impulsive. Their inflated belief in their own self-control leads them to overexpose themselves to temptation.

Brownies.jpgIn a series of four experiments, Loran Nordgren from Northwestern University showed that people suffer from a "restraint bias", where they overestimate their ability to control their own impulses. Those who fall prey to this fallacy most strongly are more likely to dive into tempting situations. Smokers, for example, who are trying to quit, are more likely to put themselves in situations if they think they're invulnerable to temptation. As a result, they're more likely to relapse.

The restraint bias stems from the fact that we're generally bad at predicting the future and how we'd feel in circumstances that are different to our current ones. When we're full, we underestimate the powerful pangs of hunger. When we're  cold, we can't imagine what it's really like to be sweltering. Addicts underestimate the pull of their drug-of choice when they try to quit.

Nordgren showed this in a previous experiment, where he asked people to remember how much dunking their hand in an icy bucket would affect their performance in a memory test. He found that people underestimated the memory-killing power of the ice, unless they were actually doing it at the time.

This time, he wanted to see how this restraint bias actually affects our behaviour. He started by asking 72 students to memorise strings of numbers for either an easy 2 minutes or a strenuous, tiring 20 minutes. As expected, those who did the longer task felt more tired than those who did the shorter one. They also felt that they had less control over their mental fatigue and they were less likely to cram for their final exams, leaving significantly less of their studying until the last week.  This confirms that, like the case of the icy bucket, students overestimate their ability to fight off tiredness unless they're actually experiencing it, and this affects how they plan their studying.

In another study, Nordgren asked 79 people to rank seven snacks in order of preference, either as they entered or left a cafeteria. He also asked them to pick one of the snacks and said that they would win it, and four euros, if they returned it uneaten a week later (the snacks were tagged to avoid cheats).

He found that people leaving the cafeteria were not only less hungry than those entering it, they also felt more strongly about their ability to shrug off an impulsive craving for snacks. That came through in their choices - the full volunteers generally chose one of their two favourite snacks, while the hungry ones chose their second- or third-favourite. On an individual basis, people who thought more of their impulse control were more likely to choose the more tempting snack. They were also less likely to actually return with the snack.

cigarettes.jpgFor his final studies, Nordgren wanted to actually manipulate his volunteers' belief in their resistance to temptation. He gave 53 smokers a test that would tell them if they had a low or high capacity for controlling their impulses. The test, however, was a sham and it's decrees were random. Nonetheless, those who were told they had lots of control were more likely to believe it than those who were assigned to the low-control group.

After being manipulated, the volunteers played a self-control game where could win money by watching a film Coffee and Cigarettes without lighting up. They could choose their difficulty setting - they could either watch the film with a cigarette in another room, on their desk, in their hand, or in their mouth (unlit, of course). The harder the challenge, the greater the potential prize.

As you've probably guessed by now, smokers who were told they had more control exposed themselves to the more tempting scenarios (they typically opted for the cigarette in hand, while the other preferred it on the table). However, their self-beliefs didn't pan out - they were three times more likely to actually smoke the cigarettes than their peers, despite being allegedly less impulsive.

This fits with other studies which have found that smokers underestimate the cravings they'll face when they try to quit. And after cravings cease, self-delusion becomes even greater. Nordgren  interviewed 55 people who had quit smoking for three weeks and found that those who were most confident about their impulse-control were more likely to put themselves in tempting situations. They were less likely to ask people to not smoke around them, and more likely to hang around other smokers, keep cigarettes around them and think that they could have an occasional cigarette without truly relapsing. And the price of this confidence? They were more likely to relapse after four months.

Together, Nordgren's four studies beautifully demonstrate the power of the restraint bias in real-life settings. It's a phenomenon that has powerful consequences, especially when it affects behaviours like smoking or dietary choices that could have significant effects on people's health. It also applies to several situations where temptation rears its head. Should a married person knowingly go for dinner with an attractive ex, on the assumption that they'll resist their attraction? Should a busy professional buy a time-sucking computer game based on their confidence that they'll manage their time effectively?

The restraint bias could also help to explain why people willingly take up activities they already know to be addictive - they simply believe that they're strong enough to resist the addiction. As a powerful example of this, one study showed that heroin users are less willing to pay for the substitute buprenorphine if they weren't currently experiencing cravings. If experienced users underestimate their urges, imagine how monumentally more difficult it would be for a naive person to do so.

This study, like many others I've reported on, speaks to the massive importance of self-awareness. Unrealistic perceptions of ourselves can wreak havoc with our decision making. Overinflated views of ourselves give us further to fall when our status is challenged. If we think we're more controlled than we are, we're more likely to lose control. If we say unrealistically positive things about ourselves, we could actually damage our self-esteem.

It's no coincidence that many addiction programs encourage people to have a more realistic sense of themselves. Alcoholic Anonymous, for example, emphasises that alcoholics should admit that they are powerless over alcohol and that they will always remain an alcoholic. Nordgren says that these recurring themes could help people to avoid "[drifting] back toward the illusory belief that they can handle their cravings."

Reference:

More unexpected psychology:

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See original: ScienceBlogs Select People who think they are more restrained are more likely to succumb to temptation [Not Exactly Rocket Science]

The Price Equation [Gene Expression]

In the comments below I referred to the "Price Equation." Here is what William D. Hamilton had to say about George Price's formalism in Narrow Roads of Gene Land:

A manuscript did eventually come from him but what I found set out was not any sort of new derivation or correction of my 'kin selection' but rather a strange new formalism that was applicable to every kind of natural selection. Central to Price's approach was a covariance formula the like of which I had never seen...Price had not like the rest of us looked up the work of the pioneers when he first became interested in selection; instead he had worked out everything for himself. In doing so he had found himself on a new road and amid startling landscapes....

In Selection and Covariance, a short letter to Nature in which he introduces his eponymous equation, Price concludes:

...it seems surprising that so simple a relation as equation 1 has not (to my knowledge) been recognized before. Probably this is because selection mathematics has largely been limited to genetical selection in diploid species, where covariance takes so simple a form that its implicit presence is hard to recognize (whereas if man were tretraploid, covariance would have been recognized long ago); and because, instead of using subscripts as "names" of individuals (as I have done), the usual practice in gene frequency equations is to use subscripts only as names of gene or genotype types, which make the mathematics seem quite different. Recognition of covariance (or regression or correlation) is of no advantage for numerical calculation, but of much advantange for evolutionary reasoning and mathematical model building

The "equation 1" mentioned above is:

ΔQ = Cov(z,q)/z

In other words, the change in "Q" equals the covariance of "z" & "q" divided by the mean of "z". It can be rewritten as:

ΔQ = &betaz&sigma2/z

"ΔQ" is naturally the change in frequency of "Q". One can think of "z" above as fitness, and "q" as the proportion of a trait (or gene frequency). The second equation shows "β", the regression coefficient of "z" on "q", and the variance of "q." One recalls from simple evolutionary logic that selection is conditional on variation in the trait which is under selection, and, a correlation of that variation with genetic variation. Much of what we know conceptually is densely packed into the Price Equation.

Wikipedia's entry for the Price Equation is fine as it goes, but I would point you to David B's Defining Group Selection: Price's Equation. The verbal treatment has a particular focus obviously, but it is very lucid. The Darwin Wars & Defenders of the Truth have more much more on George Price, both his science and peculiar biography. This formalism is also the basis under which Peter Richerson and Robert Boyd have developed their research program on the evolution of culture, outlined in Not by Genes Alone.

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See original: ScienceBlogs Select The Price Equation [Gene Expression]

Rethinking cancer screening? [Respectful Insolence]

ResearchBlogging.orgHere we go again.

I see that the kerfuffle over screening for cancer has erupted again to the point where it's found its way out of the rarified air of specialty journals to general medical journals and hence into the mainstream press. This is something that seems to pop up every so often, much to the consternation of lay people and primary care doctors alike, often trumpeted with breathless headlines along the lines of "What if everything you knew about screening was wrong?

It isn't, but some of it may be. The problem is the shaking out process. I'll try to explain.

Over the last couple of weeks, articles have appeared in newspapers such as the New York Times and Chicago Tribune, radio networks like NPR, and magazines such as TIME Magazine pointing out that a "rethinking" of routine screening for breast and prostate cancer is under way. The articles bear titles such as A Rethink On Prostate and Breast Cancer Screening, Cancer Society, in Shift, Has Concerns on Screenings, Cancers Can Vanish Without Treatment, but How?, Seniors face conflicting advice on cancer tests: Benefit-risk questions lead some to call for age cutoffs, and Rethinking the benefits of breast and prostate cancer screening. These articles were inspired by an editorial published in JAMA last month by Laura Esserman, Yiwey Shieh, and Ian Thompson entitled, appropriately enough, Rethinking Screening for Breast Cancer and Prostate Cancer. The article was a review and analysis of recent studies about the benefits of screening for breast and prostate cancer in asymptomatic populations and concluded that the benefits of large scale screening programs for breast cancer and prostate cancer tend to be oversold and that they come at a higher price than is usually acknowledged.

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See original: ScienceBlogs Select Rethinking cancer screening? [Respectful Insolence]