Open Access As An Economic War

Richard Poynder published an article on the ugly economic background of the big scientific publishers (Springer, Elsevier, etc…). He thinks they might be succeeding in making even more profits by the way they are reacting to the Open Access movement. The ugly thing about this is that it’s just another scheme to turn public taxmoney into private profits. Poynder is thus suggesting that scientists, libraries, universities should back the green road to OA more forcefully. The most promising way seems to be universities and funding organizations mandating their researchers to publish OA. The only reason why this is not happening faster is institutions dragging their feet. E.g. Switzerland may have the highest ratio of universities with OA-mandates but their is no real reason why the remaining ones (Basel, Lausanne, Geneva, Lucerne, Berne, Fribourg, Lugano, Neuchatel) should not follow the example of Zurich (U and ETH), St. Gallen and the Swiss National Science Foundation in mandating their researchers to publish OA now. In the meantime, why don’t we start refusing to review for journals from big publishers?

(Another ugly way of turning public money into private profits relating to Switzerland is freeing international sport associations from taxes. See the current discussion in German.)

11/03/2009 at 10:27 Leave a comment

Even Fish Can Be Self-Critical

Stanley Fish is wrestling with an accusation of being a prime example of neoliberal ideology. Unlike many others he seems to be taking this seriously and wants to find out what “neoliberal” means when it is used in such a context. His post seems to confirm that the accuser (Sophia McClennen) is right and that Fish thought of academic freedom as something purely apolitical. I find it worrying that academics need to become aged professors before they even start thinking about their work as something that might be political. Students of the social sciences start this thinking process in their first semesters when they are confronted with the positivism dispute and the Frankfurt School.

Why is it that the most basic themes of sociology get no reception in other domains? Even someone like Stanley Fish is only slowly catching up. But late is better than never, I guess.

09/03/2009 at 12:39 Leave a comment

“Gemüse ziehen und forschen”

Das ist die Antwort von Marius Reiser auf die Frage, was seine Zukunftspläne seien, nachdem er seine Professur an der Uni Mainz aus Protest gegen die Bologna-Reform niedergelegt hat. “Il faut cultiver notre jardin” hat schon Voltaire gefordert. Mir scheint nicht, dass er damit das Gemüseziehen gemeint hat.

16/02/2009 at 09:46 Leave a comment

Geology Can Be Fun

Hilarious video explaining why creationists are completely wrong about the history of the earth. Not only funny but also educational.


11/02/2009 at 18:25 Leave a comment

Some Sad Scientists

in this documentary. (25min.) Five people living on top of a mountain in Armenia doing research on cosmic radiation in a huge, almost abandoned and run-down facility. Document of a collapsed Russian Empire and the ensuing sadness.


10/02/2009 at 17:46 Leave a comment

Korrupte Medizin

Dass die Kommerzialisierung der Wissenschaft und insbesondere der Medizin in den letzten zwanzig Jahren bedenkliche Konsequenzen gezeitigt hat, ist in der Wissenschaftsforschung ein offenes Geheimnis. So langsam stösst das Thema auch zu einem breiteren Publikum vor: siehe das Interview mit Hans Weiss zu seinem Buch “Korrupte Medizin” auf Telepolis.

04/02/2009 at 12:26 Leave a comment

Art as Instinct

Another recommendable Science Saturday over at Denis Dutton discusses his book “The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution“. He argues that there are constant aspects through all cultures regarding the things we humans find enjoyable about art. He even provides cluster criteria that define art independent of culture:

1. direct pleasure
2. style (stylized)
3. individuality (“there is a mind behind the work”)
4. creativity and novelty
5. surrounding atmosphere and criticism
6. intellectual challenge (using the whole brain simultaneously)
7. institution (though not important)
8. representation
9. skill, virtuosity
10. special focus (special occasions)
11. emotional saturation
12. imaginative experience (“where music happens? in your brain”)

I enjoyed listening to this discussion (well, it’s more like an interview) because Dutton provides a rather relaxed and sophisticated rendition of arguments and themes around the “nature/nurture divide”. It also fits well with the Darwin-year, that seems to be everywhere.

02/02/2009 at 18:30 Leave a comment

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