1,500 scientists lift the lid on reproducibility

Survey sheds light on the ‘crisis’ rocking research.

by Monya Baker

More than 70% of researchers have tried and failed to reproduce another scientist’s experiments, and more than half have failed to reproduce their own experiments. Those are some of the telling figures that emerged from Nature‘s survey of 1,576 researchers who took a brief online questionnaire on reproducibility in research.

The data reveal sometimes-contradictory attitudes towards reproducibility. Although 52% of those surveyed agree that there is a significant ‘crisis’ of reproducibility, less than 31% think that failure to reproduce published results means that the result is probably wrong, and most say that they still trust the published literature.

Data on how much of the scientific literature is reproducible are rare and generally bleak. The best-known analyses, from psychology1 and cancer biology2, found rates of around 40% and 10%, respectively. Our survey respondents were more optimistic: 73% said that they think that at least half of the papers in their field can be trusted, with physicists and chemists generally showing the most confidence.

The results capture a confusing snapshot of attitudes around these issues, says Arturo Casadevall, a microbiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. “At the current time there is no consensus on what reproducibility is or should be.” But just recognizing that is a step forward, he says. “The next step may be identifying what is the problem and to get a consensus.”

Failing to reproduce results is a rite of passage, says Marcus Munafo, a biological psychologist at the University of Bristol, UK, who has a long-standing interest in scientific reproducibility. When he was a student, he says, “I tried to replicate what looked simple from the literature, and wasn’t able to. Then I had a crisis of confidence, and then I learned that my experience wasn’t uncommon.”

The challenge is not to eliminate problems with reproducibility in published work. Being at the cutting edge of science means that sometimes results will not be robust, says Munafo. “We want to be discovering new things but not generating too many false leads.”

The scale of reproducibility

But sorting discoveries from false leads can be discomfiting. Although the vast majority of researchers in our survey had failed to reproduce an experiment, less than 20% of respondents said that they had ever been contacted by another researcher unable to reproduce their work. Our results are strikingly similar to another online survey of nearly 900 members of the American Society for Cell Biology (see go.nature.com/kbzs2b). That may be because such conversations are difficult. If experimenters reach out to the original researchers for help, they risk appearing incompetent or accusatory, or revealing too much about their own projects.

A minority of respondents reported ever having tried to publish a replication study. When work does not reproduce, researchers often assume there is a perfectly valid (and probably boring) reason. What’s more, incentives to publish positive replications are low and journals can be reluctant to publish negative findings. In fact, several respondents who had published a failed replication said that editors and reviewers demanded that they play down comparisons with the original study.

Nevertheless, 24% said that they had been able to publish a successful replication and 13% had published a failed replication. Acceptance was more common than persistent rejection: only 12% reported being unable to publish successful attempts to reproduce others’ work; 10% reported being unable to publish unsuccessful attempts…

more…

http://www.nature.com/news/1-500-scientists-lift-the-lid-on-reproducibility-1.19970?WT.mc_id=TWT_NatureNews

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Violence on the factory farm : How not to feed the world

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By Colin Todhunter

– The amount of meat humans eat is immense. In 1965, 10 billion livestock animals were slaughtered each year. That number is now over 55 billion. Factory farming is the fastest growing method of animal production worldwide. While industrialised nations dominate this form of farming, developing countries are rapidly expanding and intensifying their production systems.

Violence on the farm

A new virtual reality film project by Animal Equality shows the public how a factory farm operates. The film focuses on how pigs live out their lives from birth to death – from the perspective of a pig. It is clear that it is not just the pig’s final death that is brutal but its whole life

The film shows how a factory farm pig is born in confinement (and into its mother’s excrement), its tail is docked and teeth clipped and it is castrated (if male) – all without pain relief. It is separated from its mother, which has been pinned down by a metal bar, and will never see the outdoors.

If the pig is female, ahead of it lies a life of artificial insemination and the taking of its children by humans over and over again, for as long as it remains fertile. Males will be taken to be fattened and will again live in overcrowded cages without stimulation, often leading to mental distress played out by biting other pigs in the cage, and fattened for five months until slaughter.

It is a life worse than that of the worst incarcerated prisoner, yet its only crime is to have been born. And immediately before having its throat cut, the pig can see its own fate as other pigs are hung up in front of it, struggling and bleeding.

Animal Equality is an International animal advocacy organisation that is dedicated to defending all animals through public education, campaigns and investigations. It works to create a more just and compassionate world for animals and is active in many countries. Its film does not go in for sensationalism. What we see appears to be an ordinary factory farm from where the public’s food increasingly derives.

Hidden filming inside factory farms shows that, from pigs and cattle to chickens, the stories are similar and the treatment of animals often barbaric. Various organisations have posted short films about the practices and standard abuses of animals within factory farms that take place in many countries (for example, Mercy For Animals has carried out numerous undercover operations in the US and Canada, which can be seen here, and Animal Equality has conducted similar investigations across Europe).

Why factory farms – why meat?

It is commonly claimed that we need to massively increase the amount of food we produce to feed a growing world population. Another claim is that chemical-intensive (GM) agriculture and factory farming is the only way to do this. These claims are erroneous.

The world already produces enough food to feed the anticipated increase in global population, and various official high-level reports state that small-scale/family farms using ecologically friendly methods are better placed to feed a growing population if adequately invested in (see this and this). Small farms already feed most of the world (see this as well), whereas factory farming belongs to a globalised model of chemical-intensive, mono-cropping and export oriented food and agriculture that produces and fuels food poverty and insecurity.

Moreover, if as a species we were to cut down on meat consumption or even eradicate it from our diet, we could feed the world more easily.

However, meat eating and factory farming are fuelled by government policies. The heavily subsidised meat industry has encouraged people, especially in the US, to eat more much meat than is necessary. A more healthy, non-meat based diet is being discriminated against due to the meat industry’s taxpayer-subsidised cheap meat (see thisthis and this).

It comes as no surprise then that, according to the United Nations Population Fund, “Each US citizen consumes an average of 260 pounds of meat per year, the world’s highest rate. That is about 1.5 times the industrial world average, three times the East Asian average, and 40 times the average in Bangladesh.”

And all this meat eating has a huge impact.

2010 report from the United Nations Environment Programme’s International Panel of Sustainable Resource Management declared: “Impacts from agriculture are expected to increase substantially due to population growth and increasing consumption of animal products… A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products.”…

more…

http://truepublica.org.uk/global/violence-factory-farm-not-feed-world/

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The Annihilation of Space and Time: Rebecca Solnit on How Muybridge Froze the Flow of Existence, Shaped Visual Culture, and Changed Our Consciousness

Eadweard Muybridge: Animal Locomotion, Plate 62Eadweard Muybridge: Running full speed (Animal Locomotion, Plate 62)

“Before, every face, every place, every event, had been unique, seen only once and then lost forever among the changes of age, light, time. The past existed only in memory and interpretation, and the world beyond one’s own experience was mostly stories.”

The great Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky described the art of cinema as “sculpting in time,”asserting that people go to the movies because they long to experience “time lost or spent or not yet had.” A century earlier, the English photographer Eadweard Muybridge (April 9, 1830–May 8, 1904) exposed the bedrock of time and devised the first chisel for its sculpting in his pioneering photographic studies of motion, which forever changed the modern world — not only by ushering in a technological revolution the effects of which permeate and even dictate our daily lives today, but also, given how bound up in space and time our thinking ego is, transforming our very consciousness. For the very first time, Muybridge’s motion studies captured what T.S. Eliot would later call “the still point of the turning world.”

With her unparalleled intellectual elegance and poetic prose, Rebecca Solnit tells the story of that transformation in River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West (public library).

Solnit frames the impact of the trailblazing experiments Muybridge conducted in the spring of 1872, when he first photographed a galloping horse:

[Muybridge] had captured aspects of motion whose speed had made them as invisible as the moons of Jupiter before the telescope, and he had found a way to set them back in motion. It was as though he had grasped time itself, made it stand still, and then made it run again, over and over. Time was at his command as it had never been at anyone’s before. A new world had opened up for science, for art, for entertainment, for consciousness, and an old world had retreated farther.

Technology and consciousness, of course, have always shaped one another, perhaps nowhere more so than in our experience of time — from the moment Galileo’s invention of the clock sparked modern timekeeping to the brutality with which social media timelines beleaguer us with a crushing sense of perpetual urgency. But the 1870s were a particularly fecund zeitgeist of technological transformation by Solnit’s perfect definition of technology as “a practice, a technique, or a device for altering the world or the experience of the world.” She writes:

The experience of time was itself changing dramatically during Muybridge’s seventy-four years, hardly ever more dramatically than in the 1870s. In that decade the newly invented telephone and phonograph were added to photography, telegraphy, and the railroad as instruments for “annihilating time and space.”

[…]

The modern world, the world we live in, began then, and Muybridge helped launch it.

[…]

His trajectory ripped through all the central stories of his time — the relationship to the natural world and the industrialization of the human world, the Indian wars, the new technologies and their impact on perception and consciousness. He is the man who split the second, as dramatic and far-reaching an action as the splitting of the atom…

more…

https://www.brainpickings.org/

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Did the Devil Really Write This Bible?

What is the secret to the longevity and brilliance of the largest surviving medieval manuscript? Lucifer himself is said to have made it.

by Candida Moss

We have all heard that the Bible is the Word of God—but what if it were actually the work of Satan? Sure, there are various heretical groups throughout history that have thought that parts of the Bible were false, but in the case of the world’s largest surviving medieval manuscript some believe that Satan himself is the book’s scribe.

While the technical name for the manuscript is Codex Gigas (literally “giant book” in Latin), it is better known as the ‘Devil’s Bible.’ It is currently housed in the National Library in Stockholm, but it was created in the twelfth century in Bohemia (the modern Czech Republic), possibly at the Benedictine monastery of Podlažice. It was transported to Sweden as part of the booty seized at the conclusion of the Thirty Years’ war in 1648. It would have taken two men to steal it, as the book is around a meter tall and weighs almost 165 pounds.

It’s not just the scale of the book that make it unusual, but also its contents. In addition to the Vulgate (the Latin version of the Bible), it contains a copy of the Jewish historian Josephus’s Jewish Antiquities, Isidore of Seville’s Etymologies, ancient medical texts, and a copy of The Chronicle of Bohemia by Cosmas of Prague (1050). Ten pages are missing, however, and as all of the works contained in the codex are complete, there’s some speculation about what they contained. Some say they held a transcription of a prayer to Satan, while scholars—the spoilsports—hypothesize they held the rules of the monastic community from which the book originated.

It is known as the Devil’s Bible for two reasons. The first is apparent to anyone who visits it: the recto of folio 290 (that’s the reverse side of the 290th leaf in the book) is blank except for a large half-meter tall illustration of the devil. The Devil is pictured with a green face, talons, and horns, crouching in a squat, almost as if he were in a yoga pose.

The second reason for its name is due to the story of its composition. According to legend, the enormous book was the work of a single monk who had been sentenced to death by inclusion (being walled up alive). In an effort to delay or forestall his execution, the monk promised to produce in a single night a manuscript that would bring glory to the monastery. The task, it is said, was too enormous, and he turned to Satan for help. The Devil completed the manuscript, presumably in exchange for the monk’s soul, and out of gratitude to Satan the monk added the large illustration of the Prince of Darkness. The monk survived but became remorseful and turned to the Virgin Mary, asking her for help. The Virgin agreed, but just as he was on the verge of being freed from his pact, he died.

Legend has it that ill fortune befalls anyone who possesses the manuscript. A nineteenth-century collection of anecdotes tells a macabre version of Night at the Museum in which a porter at the national library where the book was housed was locked in for the night after falling asleep in the main reading room. When he woke up he saw the books moving around of their own accord and dancing. A large broken clock suddenly sprang back to life and started to chime the hours. In the morning the porter was found crouched under a table in terror and spent the rest of his days in an asylum.

Scientific testing of the book revealed that it does appear to be the work of a single scribe: the handwriting is remarkably consistent and uniform throughout. As you might expect, it’s unlikely to have been produced in a single night: a National Geographic study concluded that a single person working 24 hours a day (without the help of a malevolent demon) would take five years to complete it. Assuming that that person also ate and slept, it is estimated that it would take approximately 25-30 years to complete…

more…

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/05/29/did-the-devil-really-write-this-bible.html

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Growing Up In Poverty Changes The Brain

Brain ScanPoverty can lead to biological changes in the brains of teenagers, which in turn can lead to depressive symptoms: study. Miguel Medina, Getty Images

Effects Of Poverty Impact Gene Expression In The Brain, Leading To Depression: Study

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Can Game Theory Help to Prevent Rape?

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A new app gives college students the option to only report a sexual assault if someone else is raped by the same person.

by OLGA KHAZAN

One in five women who attended college during the past four years say they were sexually assaulted, according to a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll published this summer, but only 11 percent told police or college authorities.

The reasons for the underreporting vary, but there seem to be four main pitfalls: Victims don’t want to draw attention to themselves or their assailants, don’t know if the incident truly constituted “rape,” are worried they won’t be believed, or don’t know whom to report to.

A new site, Callisto, aims to make it easier for college students to document—and report, if they wish—their sexual assaults. With Callisto, a student can fill out a timestamped record of the incident and then choose between three different next steps.

First, they can send it directly to their campus Title IX coordinator, the point-person for student investigations. The writing process helps, Callisto’s creators believe, because it might reduce the odds that college administrators will handle the matter insensitively.

“Our hope is that … the Title IX coordinator will be able to have a more nuanced conversation,” said Tracey Vitchers, director of development and operations forSexual Health Innovations, the nonprofit that designed Callisto. “That way the survivor won’t be in a position where they have to tell and tell and retell what happened to them.”

Second, the student could simply save it and decide whether to file it later. Finally, the student can put the report into “matching,” meaning the report will only be filed if someone else reports an assault by the same perpetrator.

It’s this last option that makes Callisto unique. Most rapes are committed by repeat offenders, yet most victims know their attackers. Some victims are reluctant to report assaults because they aren’t sure whether a crime occurred, or they write it off as a one-time incident. Knowing about other victims might be the final straw that puts an end to their hesitation—or their benefit of the doubt. Callisto’s creators claim that if they could stop perpetrators after their second victim, 60 percent of campus rapes could be prevented.

This kind of system is based partly on a Michigan Law Review article about “information escrows,” or systems that allow for the transmitting of sensitive information in ways that reduce “first-mover disadvantage.” According to the article, economists also refer to this as the “hungry-penguin problem:”

Hungry penguins gather at the edge of an ice floe, reluctant to dive into the water. There is food in the water, but a killer whale might be lurking, so no penguin wants to dive first.

With Callisto, no one has to be the first penguin. And as game theorist Michael Chwe points out, the fact that each person creates her report independently makes it less likely they’ll later be accused of submitting copycat reports, if there are similarities between the incidents.

Callisto is being piloted at Pomona College and the University of San Francisco this year, with plans to expand it further if it’s successful.

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/09/can-game-theory-prevent-rape/405607/

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Women largely equate self-worth with appearance, explaining their hypersensitivity to aging

Women

 by: Julie Wilson staff writer

(NaturalNews) The following is an excerpt from Denise Foley and Eileen Nechas’ book, Women’s Encyclopedia of Health & Emotional Healing, available for purchase here.

Some women develop a sense of their own aging and begin the transition from youth into middle age in their thirties. Some begin in their forties, some even as late as their fifties, says Mary M. Gergen, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology at Pennsylvania State University.

“My daughter is 29 and already checking the mirror for wrinkles,” says Dr. Gergen. She’s looking for the physical signs of aging that will tell her whether she still looks youthful or is getting old. Because, generally speaking, that’s how most women judge themselves.

Most mark the end of youth and the beginning of old age by physical changes.

“Turning 40 is pivotal,” says Cornell Medical Center professor Marion Hart, M.D. “Decades mark off a piece of life, and turning 40 is the decade in which you really begin to realize that half your life is over.”

Fear of 40 is really fear of getting old

It’s common to approach a 40th birthday with some degree of angst, says Dr. Hart, especially since society tends to make such a to-do of it.

Unfortunately, explains Dr. Gergen, the cultural imperative that how we look determines how valuable we are, to ourselves, our men, our world, is what makes women so inordinately sensitive to the physical signs of aging.

At some primitive level, women equate being beautiful with being sexually appealing, says Laura Barbanel, Ed.D., professor and head of the graduate program in school psychology at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York.

Maybe it’s an extension of the old “If . . . then . . .” equation: If aging reduces our beauty, then it also reduces our sex appeal. If we have less sex appeal, then we won’t attract mates. If we don’t attract mates, then we won’t have babies. If we have no babies, then we have no function. If we have no function, then we have no value.

Is this logic? Is the value of a woman really in her ability to reproduce?

Obviously, no. Yet that’s what a fear of aging basically comes down to, says Dr. Barbanel. To a woman, as one of her colleagues puts it, aging is nothing less than “a humiliating process of sexual disqualification.”

The Jane Fonda Effect

Complicating the issue is the 1990s awareness that we have the power to postpone at least the obvious signs of aging. Exercise can firm flabby thighs, tummy tucks can tighten sagging bellies, eye-lifts can eliminate bags, moisturizers can fill in the crow’s-feet.

Ironically, says Dr. Gergen, our ability to look young as we approach midlife may actually perpetuate the you’re-only-as-good-as-you-look myth. It’s what she calls the Jane Fonda effect.

It’s a theory as old as time itself and it goes something like this: Men age well; they actually become more attractive as they age. Their lines add character, their gray hair wisdom. But women, lines are wrinkles and gray is matronly. Women become less attractive as they age.

What does the modern woman think?

To find out, researcher Carol B. Giesen, Ph.D., of the Division of Human Development at St. Mary’s College of Maryland in St. Mary’s City asked 32 women ranging in age from 28 to 63 to share their definitions of attractiveness, femininity and sexual appeal.

She found that the old double standard still exists, at least in the minds of middle-aged and older married woman. All the women agreed that men are at their most attractive and are most sexually appealing in their early forties to late fifties.

The married women, however, said they felt their peak years of attractiveness and sex appeal occurred during their early twenties to early thirties. Single and young married women, however, felt a woman’s peak years to be from the early thirties to the early fifties.

Single women also tended to downplay the definition of attractiveness and preferred to think of themselves as “growing more attractive and sexually appealing over the years.”

Middle-aged and older married women blamed age-related changes such as gray hair, wrinkles and weight gain as the cause of their diminished attractiveness and sexual appeal.

Single women, particularly middle-aged ones, said these things added to their attractiveness.

Interestingly, she says, both groups attributed their divergent views to the same thing, a greater acceptance of themselves.

What gives here? Perhaps, speculates Dr. Giesen, her findings “reflect qualitatively different life experiences for single and married women.”

The problem, she explains, is that if Jane can look good at 44 or 54, we feel that we should, too. And pretty soon it becomes another cultural imperative. It’s something society expects of us, something we expect of ourselves.

We become so obsessed with pinning things up, smoothing things out or erasing them altogether that we continue to believe a woman with lines on her face, spots on her hands or gray in her hair is losing her value, or at least a part of herself.

But, in truth, just the opposite is happening. Midlife can actually be a time of tremendous personal growth because it’s the time we look in the mirror and ask: “What have I done with my life?” “What am I going to do with the rest of it?”

This is what aging is really all about.

Sources:

Foley, D. and Nechas, E. (1993) Women’s Encyclopedia of Health & Emotional Healing (Rodale)

Science.NaturalNews.com

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/054175_women_self_worth_appearance.html#ixzz4A2lWQ7U6

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6 Stupidly Simple Ways To Shorten Your Lifespan

Credit: news.com.au

Those who take up all six deadly habits are 5 times more likely to die an early death.

By now, you’re well aware that smoking will shorten your lifespan by about a minimum of 10 years. But did you also know that other unassuming habits, such as sitting too long and drinking too much alcohol, will also increase your odds of dying early?

According to scientists from the University of Sydney, there are six habits that are proven to shorten one’s lifespan, and they follow:

  1. Alcohol consumption
  2. Poor diet
  3. Inactivity
  4. Smoking
  5. Sitting for more than 7 hours a day
  6. Sleeping for more than 9 hours

Said Dr. Melody Ding, one of the researchers:

“To examine specific patterns of lifestyle risk behaviors, 96 variables – representing all possible mutually exclusive combinations of smoking, high alcohol intake, physical inactivity, poor diet, prolonged sitting, and short/long sleep duration – were created Short and long sleep durations were separated as two different risk factors, as their associations with mortality may be explained by different mechanisms.

This analysis investigated four established and two [new] risk factors, namely, prolonged sitting and unhealthy sleep duration, which may be added to behavioral indices or risk combinations to quantify health risk.”

Reportedly, one who is guilty of doing all of six of the “six deadly habits” is 5 times more likely to die an early death during a 6-year period compared to someone who lives a healthy lifestyle.

While it is common knowledge that not getting enough sleep strains the physical body, it might come as a shock to learn that too much sleep also increases one’s odds of dying young. Ding explains:

“Short and long sleep durations were separated as two different risk factors, as their associations with mortality may be explained by different mechanisms. This analysis investigated four established and two [new] risk factors, namely, prolonged sitting and unhealthy sleep duration, which may be added to behavioral indices or risk combinations to quantify health risk.”

One theory is that inactivity – which results from both sitting and sleeping too long – impedes blood flow thereby resulting in reduced oxygenation. The finding is disturbing, but a study published earlier this year by the University of Cambridge doesn’t have anything more optimistic to report.

According to the scientists, sleeping more than nine hours doubles a person’s risk of having a stroke. Natural Society relays that women are especially susceptible. It was also determined that sleeping in when you normally don’t get enough sleep is unhealthy. Reportedly, the way to ensure that getting Zzz’s doesn’t shorten your lifespan is to get on a regular sleep schedule.

By engaging in exercise, taking breaks from work every 30 minutes or hour to go on a brisk walk, quitting smoking, sleeping 7-9 hours per night, eating healthfully and minimizing alcohol consumption, you can nearly guarantee that you’ll live longer than your peers who don’t make their health a priority. The choice is yours!

TrueActivist.com

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The Immortality Hype

Piore_BR-Immortalists-Doc

FOREVER AND DE GREY: The British gerontologist Aubrey de Grey, from the 2014 documentary, The Immortalists, is often the subject of aging scientists’ ire, for comments like the one he made in BBC News in 2004: “I think the first person to live to 1,000 might be 60 already.”The Immortalists

Despite the hyperbole, private funding is changing the science of aging for the better.

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Dieting Failure: The Real Reason It Is So Hard to Keep Weight Off Once Lost

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Why do newly thin people often regain the weight they struggle so hard to lose?

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