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Spartan Ideas is a collection of thoughts, ideas, and opinions independently written by members of the MSU community and curated by MSU Libraries

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Independent Streams (Week of October 2)

Problems Summit Held For Ending Campus Sexual Assault(link is external) IPPSR affiliate Rebecca Campbell explains common trauma-responses in sexual assault victims. ‘Fake News’ Course Aims To Improve Media Consumption And Production(link is external) IPPSR affiliate William Dutton comments on the impact of ‘fake news.’ Cooking Books: DOD, HUD Defrauded Taxpayers Of $21 Trillion From 1998 to 2015(link …

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Where are participants in American and Canadian teacher hashtags?

My dissertation research is focused on Regional Educational Twitter Hashtags (RETHs), which are teacher-focused hashtags that are associated with particular geographic regions, such as American states or Canadian provinces or territories. This isn’t the first time that I’ve done a project on this phenomenon, and it’s rewarding to come back to RETHs to answer some questions that …

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Sport and Social Justice in South Africa

  Nelson Mandela would have been proud of Colin Kaepernick and the black (as well as a few white) U.S. athletes involved in the national anthem demonstrations against police violence and systemic racism. “Sport has the power to change the world,” Mandela believed. “It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that …

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Getting started with ‘open science’ through blogging

Through a few different projects and people (such as SIPS and rOpenSci and conversations with friends / colleagues both online and offline), I have been exposed to the idea of open science. I’m actually going to punt for the moment. Here’s a definition that sounds about right to me: Open science is the movement to make scientific research, data and dissemination accessible …

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A person-in-context approach to student engagement in science (article in JRST)

Over the past few years, I have worked with Jennifer Schmidt and Patrick Beymer to explore student engagement in science using the Experience Sampling Method (ESM). Most recently, we used what scholars have referred to as a “person-in-context” approach, using both ESM and a person-oriented approach. A figure is helpful for conveying how the person-oriented approach can be used to …

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Is there such a thing as “white hat” research ethics violations?

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about some of the ethical dilemmas involved in using public data for research, using an example of facial recognition researchers who used YouTube videos of people undergoing hormone replacement therapy to improve their algorithms’ ability to recognize faces from pre- and post-transition. Since reading that article, I’ve seen the occasional …

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Recognizing Advisors

Advisors empower students to make life-altering decisions for themselves, armed with the best possible information. On Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017 I had the opportunity to speak at the first annual MSU Advisor Recognition Ceremony. Advising is a unique academic role on campus: in this role, advisors need to carefully balance giving students accurate and realistic …

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Minimizing a Median

\( \def\xorder#1{x_{\left(#1\right)}} \def\xset{\mathbb{X}} \def\xvec{\mathbf{x}} \)A somewhat odd (to me) question was asked on a forum recently. Assume that you have continuous variables \(x_{1},\dots,x_{N}\) that are subject to some constraints. For simplicity, I’ll just write \(\xvec=(x_{1},\dots,x_{N})\in\xset\). I’m going to assume that \(\xset\) is compact, and so in particular the \(x_{i}\) are bounded. The questioner wanted to …

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Public data and digital research ethics

The Verge recently posted an article that highlights some of the ethical dilemmas involved in collecting publicly-available data for research purposes. The article begins by describing the work of a researcher working on facial recognition of people before and after hormone replacement therapy: On YouTube, he found a treasure trove. Individuals undergoing HRT often document their progress …

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Varieties of Snowflakes

I was pleasantly surprised that New Yorker editor David Remnick and Berkeley law professor Melissa Murray continue to support the First Amendment, even if some of her students do not. Remnick gives Historian Mark Bray (author of Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook) a tough time about the role of violence in political movements. After Charlottesville, the Limits …

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How to be an effective acting director, chair or dean — Part II (essay)

Last week, Inside Higher Ed published an essay of mine describing my experience as an interim dean. It covered several practical, task-oriented topics: identifying one’s core mission for the interim period, allaying colleagues’ fears, acquiring reliable information and triaging the issues that land in your inbox. But leading a college that includes a department of theater helped me recognize …

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Using MPlus from R with MPlusAutomation

According to the MPlus website, the R package MPlusAutomation serves three purposes: Creating related groups of models Running batches Extracting and tabulating model parameters and test statistics. Because modeling involves comparing related models, (partially) automating these is compelling. It can make it easier to use model results in subsequent analyses and can cut down on copy and pasting …

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Normies Lament

Ezra Klein talks to Angela Nagle. It’s still normie normative, but Nagle has at least done some homework. Click the link below to hear the podcast. From 4Chan to Charlottesville: where the alt-right came from, and where it’s going Angela Nagle spent the better part of the past decade in the darkest corners of the …

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In Other Words (Week of August 21)

On the Left Lack Of Support With Child Care Costs Leaves Families Struggling(link is external) From the Michigan League for Public Policy blog Factually Speaking, a look at the high costs of child care. U.S. Court Of Appeals Rules To Keep Michigan Wolves On Endangered Species List(link is external) From the blog Up North Progressive, Michigan wolves kept on endangered species …

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Independent Streams (week of August 14)

Problems Are We Thinking About Teacher Pay All Wrong?(link is external) IPPSR Affiliate Joshua Cowen discusses teacher pay. Using Science To Combat Illegal Wildlife Trade(link is external) IPPSR Affiliate Meredith Gore joins scientists in the fight against illegal wildlife trade. Are You Overestimating How Happy Your Customers Are?(link is external) IPPSR Affiliate Tomas Hult co-authors study on customer …

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A Farewell to Arms? Surely You Jest!

As I arrived home last night after a meeting and having been serenaded on the way first, by the end of Mr. Trump’s Afghanistan speech, and then by NPR’s commentators, I realized that I was more disheartened by the phalanx of commentators than by Trump’s final words. An additional irony for me was the reflection that here …

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Lessons from the field

As glamorous and thrilling as fieldwork might sound, no field season is complete without a few tales, typically funnier after the fact. Here’s my attempt to impart some humor and share lessons learned after the emotional trauma subsided. Lesson #1: Try new things but acknowledge your limits The second day of our trip, I was …

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The Bannon Channel

Rumor has it that Bannon will start a Breitbart TV channel to rival Fox News. Given the success of YouTube- / pod-casters like Joe Rogan (5 million downloads per episode), it’s plausible this could be done with very modest capex (the channel could start out as pure streaming and only go to cable later). Billionaire …

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Meanwhile, down on the Farm

The Spring 2017 issue of the Stanford Medical School magazine has a special theme: Sex, Gender, and Medicine. I recommend the article excerpted below to journalists covering the Google Manifesto / James Damore firing. After reading it, they can decide for themselves whether his memo is based on established neuroscience or bro-pseudoscience. Perhaps top Google …

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In the matter of James Damore, ex-Googler

James Damore, Harvard PhD* in Systems Biology, and (until last week) an engineer at Google, was fired for writing this memo: Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber, which dares to display the figure above. Here is Damore’s brief summary of his memo (which contains many citations to original scientific research), and the conclusion: Google’s political bias has …

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What’s in a banana?

Or: A sack of chemicals by any other name would smell as sweet (1). ​ [Andy writes… ] Do you want safe food? Do you eat chemicals? How do you decide what’s natural, and is “natural” a good indicator of safety? What’s a chemical anyway? Is a banana still natural if it contains 2-hydroxy-3-methylethyl? There’s …

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