I can teach them nothing

28 02 2014

At our group meeting yesterday, I passed on a New Thing I Have Learned (from Becky), which is that logit transformations are great, especially when Box-Coxes don’t work (logits seem to be from a different family of transformations).

This is what they chorused in response: “Yeah we already knew that. And logits are way easier to back-transform”. My job is clearly done: I can retire and be put out to grass…

Seeing red

24 02 2014

Elke accompanied me, Mike and a light meter to our mouse rooms on Friday, to help us evaluate our “dark” phase lighting. We wanted advice on on two issues. First, is the overhead red light mice are chronically exposed to during the dark phase sufficiently dark and red, even in the cages with the greatest exposure? And second, is the same true of the clip-on lights that we have scattered round the room, and turn on for in-cage observations?. Being exposed to light during the dark phase can reset animals’ clocks and make their activity cycles start/stop at different times on subsequent days, so this additional light on observation days (plus the glow from the lab iPad, any phone etc.) might add noise to our data. (We scrupulously check data for internal consistency before analyses, and enrichment treatments & barren cages are physically intermingled so that patches of light/shade are never add systemmatic error; but still, it’s always nice to understand the issues better, and stomp on sources of variance where we can).

Verdict: the overhead lights seem pretty good, but our clip-on lamps are way too bright and yellow. Lee filters can provide a simple solution however (phew), especially “Marius Red” (787 in the samples below).

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What neuroscience doesn’t tell us about morality

23 02 2014

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Over the first two weeks of Feb., in our ‘logic slot’ my group discussed a Philosophy Bites podcast featuring Patricia Churchland on “what neuroscience can teach us about morality“: a promising-sounding choice by Walter.

These podcasts typically feature professional philosophers and so usually leave us little to critique in terms of the quality of their arguments. Sadly, this was an exception. A pervasive problem handicapping proper discussion right from the start was vagueness: morality was never defined. This seemed to allow Churchland to talk at length about oxytocin and pair-bonding, and to digress about social mores and manners: topics we felt were red herrings. Nigel pushed her at points as to whether she was making a naturalistic fallacy, but he didn’t get anywhere, primarily because of her persistent tendency to give politician’s answers that addressed either only part of a question, or a slightly different one from that actually asked. There were also references to Hume and Darwin which felt to us merely appeals to authority.

I’m sure neuroscience does have a lot to say about morality; for example about the types of theory of mind that allow us to imagine how things are for another person even if we don’t have an emotional bond with them; the biological bases of psychopathy; and the accommodations we might want to make for those with disorders giving them diminished responsibility. This was not, however, the place to learn about these. As one of the few women philosophers I was rooting for Churchland, but this podcast was just annoying.

Egg bill broken?

23 02 2014

Not 100% sure I get the nuances of this, but suspect it’s not good for chickens:

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A private zoo: never a good sign in a leader, is it?

23 02 2014

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Something’s happened to Luke

22 02 2014

Top: February 2013; bottom: today (same bed, same Sylvie)

Kitten update

Luke is huge

New-ish Chipotle ad

21 02 2014

It’s emotive, inaccurate, manipulative, and I love it.