Thursday Links: E.O. Wilson pisses everyone off and I like math

So, you may have seen that E.O. Wilson, purveyor of ants, biodiversity and conservation, has the  internet all up in arms about using sliderules and number machines and whatnot. Apparently, math is technical and what the world needs is more idea people. I won't bother to write my own reply to E.O. as it seems 75% of the Ecolog listerv already has and Jeremy Fox et al., have covered the issue very thoroughly over at Dynamic Ecology. I especially like their Fisher vs. Wilson post.

While, I as the holder of a BA in environmental studies, am an unlikley proponent of quantitative ecology, I can't help but think how far research has gotten based on the mathletic among us. In 2013 I can use open source tools to mine incredibly dense data and identify patterns or model processes like no other generation of researchers has ever been able to. Statistics, programming and calculus may be difficult, and they may not directly grow non-mathematical disciplinary knowledge (e.g. economics, biology), but damn, would it be hard to build testable conceptual models of complex systems if we were still looking up Z stats in tables and hand calculating t-tests. Basically, science has evolved to do a better job of answering complex questions with contemporary methods. These math skills are not a substitute for good questions, but it shows that in 2013, good questions alone probably won't equate to success like they did for E.O. back in '49.

Instead of jumping further into the mix on this one, I will politely refer you to the R-project which just released version 3.0 last week. R-bloggers has a tutorial on how to update and retain functional packages.

Once you get that R 3.0 up and running, have a look at the WEE Ecology group's open access pre-print on sharing data. It's a clear read and great introductory stuff for anyone hoping to house their data in a public repository.

In unrelated news, 420-pound wrestler Chris Taylor went for a ride back in 1972.



I provide this as a metaphor for...something tangentially related to the above content. Here it is:

Greatest Hits