Field of Science

What you missed on the Web last week - 10/1/2012 edition

Forgetting kanji
Japanese computer users say they are forgetting how to handwrite kanji due to computer use. The number has increased from 10 years ago. An important question not addressed is whether they can write more kanji using a computer now than people could write by hand 10 years ago. (Hat tip: LanguageLog)

Another descriptivist/presciptivist debate
What I learned from it: I'm not the only one whose idiolect does not distinguish between relative clauses beginning with 'that' and 'which'.

Science spam
Neuroskeptic notices a dramatic rise in science spam (irrelevant conference announcements, lab products, etc.). Am I glad I'm not the only one, or sad for the world?

Animal research @ Freakonomics
A Freakonomics blogger writes that while he's generally against animal research, he supposes it might be OK if it led to saving human life. In response, Isis writes "This is someone who is pleading for us to understand animals, but is unwilling to understand where the basic health care that has enabled us (of the first world, primarily) to live as long as we do [comes from]". Or understand much of anything else. The author thinks one of the problems is that we don't understand animals well enough yet; presumably we'll understand them better if we stop studying them. The rest of the article has some other interesting flights of fancy.

PLoS retraction policy
PLoS declares that it will retract any paper, the conclusions of which turn out to be incorrect. I wish them luck in figuring out when something passes that threshold.

Is science growing too fast?
Some time ago, I worried that as more and more papers become published, it'll become impossible to keep up with the literature. Neuroskeptic crunches the numbers.

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