The White Dot: A Parable

The image shows a Nigerian Doll from the Californian African American Museum.

Originally posted anonymously at the-white-dot.posterous.com in Sept 2011. It had 563 views in March 2013. Posterous is now closing down, so I am reposting here. Not my normal style! Enjoy this parable of academic publishing and look forward to the time when the white dot comes to Science!

Dear cousin, I feel I must relate the tale of an island we recently visited in the midst of an archipelago kingdom. The inhabitants of the island had established a remarkable economy, based on a trade in dolls. These dolls were beautiful artifacts indeed. Carved from wood, dressed in gaudy clothes and garlanded in extraordinary symbols, each was exquisite and unique. One fashioned in the image of a revered ancestor, another like a gargoyle. Some took the form of gnomes or sprites or other weird and fanciful creatures, and each bore a coloured dot on the tip of its nose.

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Science v Philosophy

http://en.paperblog.com/birds-get-silly-making-fun-of-humans-193335/

Any friendly philosophers or scientists fancy getting together for a discussion on G+ Hangouts in the next few days?

UPDATE: The Hangout is planned for 21/2/2013 1730 GMT. Comment here or tweet @tom_hartley for an invitation. You will need to provide your preferred gmail address (but you should do this privately, e.g., by twitter DM or by adding me on G+).

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How to Convince Me

Persuasion. An ineffective approach. from http://premwow.blogspot.co.u

In an earlier post, I explained why I sometimes feel that reason is greatly overrated; people often leave unnoticed gaps in an explanation and are not good at spotting these. In addition we are all prone to various cognitive biases which incline us to believe things when we shouldn’t and not to believe things when we should.

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Dr Who or Professor Who? On Academic Email Etiquette

River-and-the-11th-doctor-river-song-26507267-624-352

This post was provoked by a discussion with a UK-based professor (let’s call her Rebecca Smith, not her real name) who mentioned on twitter that she had received an inquiry about a PhD application by email from someone addressing her as “Hey Rebecca!” Was this a faux-pas on the applicant’s part?

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Great Balls of Fire

fireball210912

I saw a fireball or meteor last night. Read More…

What is the point of Google+?

google-plus-icon-2

About a month ago on this blog, I tried to explain the point of twitter. This week I turn to Google+ a relatively new social network which hasn’t yet quite taken off in the way facebook and twitter have. Read More…

Devil’s Advocate: Uncorrected Stats and the Trouble With fMRI

Devils_advocate_poster

This rather technical post is a response to a recent Observer article by Vaughan Bell. In it he follows up on a recent internet discussion around the validity or otherwise of fMRI methods. A blog post by StokesBlog responded.  I must admit I hesitate to step into the fray. I think “flaws” in neuroimaging methods are sometimes overstated, but I don’t want people to think I am flawed, so perhaps I should keep my head down. Oh well, here goes…

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