Friday, October 24, 2008

Creation Science has a "peer-reviewed" journal

Huzzah! Finally, after being locked out of reputable scientific journals, the Creationist crowd has faced facts and decided to publish themselves (journal's website). Very clever - if you can't play the real game, make up a new game.

Unfortunately, it hasn't been around long enough to have garnered a journal impact factor (essentially a way to determine how important a journal is in its field). I'm confident, though, that when its impact factor comes out, it will approach zero. The good news? They need papers, which should be in tune with this:
Addressing the need to disseminate the vast fields of research conducted by creationist experts in theology, history, archaeology, anthropology, biology, geology, astronomy, and other disciplines of science, Answers Research Journal will provide scientists and students the results of cutting-edge research that demonstrates the validity of the young-earth model, the global Flood, the non-evolutionary origin of “created kinds,” and other evidences that are consistent with the biblical account of origins.
As you can see, not just any crap will be published. No, no, it must be high quality crap, or at least mediocre crap with a veneer of high quality. Given the vast fields (by their own estimation) of crap out there, finding suitable manuscripts shouldn't prove difficult.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Scientific plagiarism's poster girl (Bonus: new definition of chutzpah!)

Oops.  Noted Iranian militant (she was spokesperson for the "students" in the hostage crisis) and later Iranian vice president, and now Professor of Immunology, Ms. Ebtekar recently published a paper in an Iranian medical journal.

Turns out the paper was cobbled together from articles published previously in other journals. Unfortunately for Ms. Ebteker, Deja Vu, a database, checks new papers against older papers and nailed her.  Her excuse? Sloppy underlings.

She is especially upset with the publicity her plagiarism engendered, asking the fellow who uncovered her plagiarism if it was ethical for him to publicize it (reminder to self: update internal definition of chutzpah).

What Deja Vu found is pretty impressive:
Deja Vu claims that about 85% of the text comes from five papers by other researchers, with the chunks ranging from 5% to 30% of their content.
In her defense, this was a review article; but seriously, she could have made a bit of an effort.

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How to upset the Swiss in one easy step

Complaining about their banking secrecy laws is a surefire way. The Swiss called in the German ambassador for a frank discussion of Germany's language on the subject, which included the phrase "using the whip" against Switzerland.

The Swiss government has reacted angrily to a stinging attack on its banking secrecy laws by the German and French finance ministers.

Following its neighbours' joint call for Switzerland to be added to a tax haven blacklist, the foreign ministry on Wednesday summoned Germany's ambassador to Bern to express its "surprise and discontent".

"One does not treat a partner country in such a way," Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey said. Calmy-Rey took exception to Peer Steinbrück's "violent" language. The German finance minister spoke of "using the whip" against Switzerland.

"The choice of language is very unfortunate seeing as Switzerland is pursuing a partnership and dialogue with Germany ... and the European Union," she added.

France and Germany claim that Switzerland is encouraging tax fraud by refusing to exchange information for tax purposes, unless fraud has already been proven.

It is an issue that refuses to go away. Switzerland stubbornly defends its banking secrecy laws while other countries stamp their feet in annoyance. [....]

The Germans and French believe that plenty of sweet, sweet, taxable Euros are hidden in Swiss accounts, and want Switzerland to be more forthcoming with info. The tradition of secrecy provides an edge to Swiss banks (which pay ridiculously low interest on accounts), that the Swiss will be loath to give up. Some sort of compromise will surely be worked out as Switzerland will eventually want to set up closer ties to the EU, which does hold the whip.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Completely foreseeable consequences surprise bureaucrats

Hawaii instituted universal healthcare earlier this year for children without health insurance. Sounds laudable, but many parents immediately dropped their own healthcare plan in order to qualify, which raised costs so high that the program has been scrapped.

Hawaii is dropping the only state universal child health care program in the country just seven months after it launched.

Gov. Linda Lingle's administration cited budget shortfalls and other available health care options for eliminating funding for the program. A state official said families were dropping private coverage so their children would be eligible for the subsidized plan.

"People who were already able to afford health care began to stop paying for it so they could get it for free," said Dr. Kenny Fink, the administrator for Med-QUEST at the Department of Human Services. "I don't believe that was the intent of the program." [...]

Understatement of the day, that. Dr. Fink, meet human nature (and don't act surprised the next time you meet).

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Nobel committee takes a last swipe at Bush

Knowing that soon they won't have George Bush to kick around anymore, the Nobel committee got in one last dig at President Bush. Last month the head of the Nobel literature prize committee said that American authors were too insular, and too ignorant of literature in general to be considered.

Today, they awarded the Nobel prize (I know that it isn't officially a Nobel award, but it is called that) in economics to perhaps the best credentialed sufferer of Bush derangement syndrome:

Paul Krugman, the Princeton University scholar and New York Times columnist, won the Nobel economic prize Monday for his analysis of how economies of scale can affect trade patterns and the location of economic activity.

Krugman has been a harsh critic of the Bush administration and the Republican Party in The New York Times, where he writes a regular column and has a blog called "Conscience of a Liberal."

He has come out forcefully against John McCain during the economic meltdown, saying the Republican candidate is "more frightening now than he was a few weeks ago" and earlier that the GOP has become "the party of stupid."

The 55-year-old American economist was the lone of winner of the 10 million kronor ($1.4 million) award and the latest in a string of American researchers to be honored. It was only the second time since 2000 that a single laureate won the prize, which is typically shared by two or three researchers.

Doubtless Krugman deserves this award, but doubtless also the timing (given his attitude towards Bush and Republicans) is suspect. The committee could just as easily have named several other winners, but chose to reward someone who shares their personal opinions while they can still thumb their noses at Bush and America.

In any case, congatulations to Prof. Krugman.

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