Those of you who are not regular readers of the economics blogosphere have missed a hugely entertaining spectacle over the summer: prominent and articulate economists have been fighting passionately about whether economics is a science. In doing so, they’ve been attempting to answer some very fundamental questions, like what makes science science, what makes scientists scientists (and thus some economists scientists and others not), when some economists stopped being scientists, what economists think other economists think about what science is, when some economists stopped thinking other economists thought the same thing about what science is, and who insulted whom at a conference in Edgartown, Massachusetts in 1978.
Jill Lepore on using the Internet Archive as an archive: “Last year, the Internet Archive made an archive of its .gov domain, tidied up and compressed the data, and made it available to a group of scholars, who tried very hard to make something of the material. It was so difficult to recruit scholars to use the data that the project was mostly a wash. Kahle says, ‘I give it a B.’ Stanford’s Web archivist, Nicholas Taylor, thinks it’s a chicken-and-egg problem. ‘We don’t know what tools to build, because no research has been done, but the research hasn’t been done because we haven’t built any tools.'”
“Project Syria,” a video game that simulates a day in the life of a Syrian refugee, debuted this weekend at the World Economic Forum.
Researchers are considering relocating the origin moment of the Anthropocene from the Industrial Revolution to the mid-twentieth century, to correspond to the detonation of the first atomic bombs (stay tuned for more on this later this week from Leah).
An in-depth profile on life with rare genetic condition Prader-Willi syndrome. Those who suffer with Prader-Willi have insatiable appetites, and can literally eat themselves to death. This strange symptom makes the disease of great interest to both researchers and pharmaceutical companies, who hope that Prader-Willi patients hold the key to understanding the mysteries of diet and obesity.
Scientific writing can be described in lots of ways, but beautiful is usually not one of them. Stephen Heard, an ecologist at the University of New Brunswick, wants to make the case for “whimsy, jokes, and beauty” in scientific in prose. His blog post and recent paper on the subject have sparked a debate about relative merits of typically turgid versus poetic scientific writing styles. Nature nicely sums up the conversation here.