Retraction Watch: Withdrawal of published papers due to fraud or flawed methods is becoming a major issue and the study of retractions is a growing field on the edge of science. A scan on the field. And a particularly powerful contribution.
Like monasticism, science is an enterprise with a superhuman aim whose achievement is forever beyond the capacities of the flawed humans who aspire toward it. The best scientists know that they must practice a sort of mortification of the ego and cultivate a dispassion that allows them to report their findings, even when those findings might mean the dashing of hopes, the drying up of financial resources, and the loss of professional prestige. It should be no surprise that even after outgrowing the monasteries, the practice of science has attracted souls driven to seek the truth regardless of personal cost and despite, for most of its history, a distinct lack of financial or status reward. Now, however, science and especially science bureaucracy is a career, and one amenable to social climbing. Careers attract careerists, in Feyerabend’s words: “devoid of ideas, full of fear, intent on producing some paltry result so that they can add to the flood of inane papers that now constitutes ‘scientific progress’ in many areas.”
Coal and power. From The Australian, ignoring the vital importance of cheap power.
Halting or limiting coal or fossil fuels output will simply mean that those with no or partial access to electricity would have to wait much longer in the dark.
That is an uncomfortable but incontrovertible fact. If you limit something or make it more expensive to the poor then you are delaying or denying that access. Not just for weeks, months or years, but generations. Hundreds of millions of people will live shorter, more miserable lives as a result of the choices of the comfortable and warm.
The joy of a carefree approach to public debate is that you don’t have to worry about consequences.
Climate. Another good man goes down.
MacKay argued that for renewable facilities to make an appreciable contribution, they would have to be developed on a massive, industrial scale. At the time the book was written, Britain was generating about 4.5 per cent of its electricity from renewables, mostly hydro-power, landfill gas and wind.
Any substantial increase would involve nationwide projects that would have significant effects on the environment. If, for example, it was decided burning biomass (crops for fuel) was the answer, about 75 per cent of Britain would need to be covered in biomass plantations to meet only 25 per cent of our current electricity demand. If we chose wave power, we would need 500 km of Atlantic coastline to be filled with wave farms. Covering between five and 10 per cent of the country with solar panels would provide less than half the daily electricity consumption of the average European – about the same as an offshore wind farm filling an area of the sea twice the size of Wales.
Books. Amazingly expensive books from Abe.
Ground-breaking botany, the works of two famous English writers, golf from the days of plus fours and stiff cocktails, racy fashion photography, classic fantasy fiction with a touch of Dracula thrown in, an iconic novel about mental illness, and some illustrated poetry make up our top 10 list of expensive sales from the first three months of 2016.
Books by librarians. Who knew that Chairman Mao was a librarian?
The authors on this list range from the top dogs at the Library of Congress to folks who have worked at the national libraries of Argentina, France and Sweden, and people who have checked books in and out at public and school libraries.
We decided to exclude Chairman Mao and his Little Red Book. This one-time librarian at Peking University is perhaps the most widely read of all librarians who wrote but it was under extraordinary circumstances (although it is now rumored that the book was ghostwritten). Our featured book is Hemlock and After by Angus Wilson, illustrated by Ronald Searle, and was a bestseller in 1952. Wilson was a librarian in the British museum.
Clouston and Hall academic remainders.
Regulation. President Obama ramps up his record-breaking run on regulation in his last lap. Nothing really new, it just keeps getting worse and we just have to keep saying it. As my late friend Tony Chambers used to say:
‘Cheer up’, they said, ‘things could be worse.’
So we cheered up. And sure enough, things did get worse.
Gerard Henderson’s Media Watchdog.