@NicoleCRust@neuromatch.social avatar



Professor (UPenn). Brain researcher. Author (nonfiction). Advocate for community based progress & collective intelligence.

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NicoleCRust, to random
@NicoleCRust@neuromatch.social avatar

Brainstorming corrections for scientific myopia

I’m convinced that we’ve inadvertently created a scientific culture that disproportionately dissuades high-level, big-picture thinking. How do we rectify that?

A few venues I know. Please add to this list!

We write at a high-level. Venues: perspective pieces of journals, thetransmitter.org, aeon.org, etc

We hold workshops to discuss things, at a high-level. Venues like https://www.tfi.ucsb.edu/ & https://esforum.de/ have interesting models.

We devote some time to this at conferences (I’ll be trying that here: https://2024.ccneuro.org/; let’s see how it goes). Know any other examples?

We write, read and discuss books.

I understand astrophysics does something organized (given shared resources): everyone is polled; plans are discussed; reports are written.

@NicoleCRust@neuromatch.social avatar


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awaisaftab, to random
@awaisaftab@mastodon.social avatar

Mental Causation and Metaphysical Gloss

“Downward causation” is strictly speaking neither “downward” nor “causation.”


@NicoleCRust@neuromatch.social avatar

Very relevant to recent conversations.

And a refreshingly coherent take on a complex topic - kudos and gratitude on that, @awaisaftab

jonny, to random
@jonny@neuromatch.social avatar

Im going back to visit Boise Idaho, where I grew up. When I left it was a town for aging football dads and uncool teens such as myself, but Boise is apparently Cool Now???? Extremely weird to me

@NicoleCRust@neuromatch.social avatar

Mind blown!

NicoleCRust, to random
@NicoleCRust@neuromatch.social avatar

Carol Jennings, RIP

Carol Jennings was an amazing woman who letters wrote letters to Alzheimer's researchers about her family. That led to the discovery of the APP gene and, in turn, the amyloid hypothesis of Alzheimer's. (Her family carries a rare form in which mutations to the APP gene cause Alzheimer's with certainty). She devoted the rest of her life to Alzheimer's advocacy. Tragically, she acquired the disorder later in life herself.

Thank you, Carol Jennings. Rest in peace.


annaleen, to random
@annaleen@wandering.shop avatar

A science fiction obsession led me to psychological war. I spent the past three years researching and writing a book about the history of psychological warfare in the United States, and it's coming out in early June. Not all the gems I discovered could be crammed into the final manuscript, and I've been dying to share what I found in the archives ... check out my latest newsletter to see some amazing treasures from a history that's rarely told.

@NicoleCRust@neuromatch.social avatar

Whoa! Fascinating.

sls, to random
@sls@neuromatch.social avatar

me: "Measure it! Get the data!"

David Hubel: "Those who think 'Science is Measurement' should search Darwin's works for numbers and equations."

@NicoleCRust@neuromatch.social avatar

Protheory here (when we’re ready for it). But one of my favorite books that makes your point:


This is where we are, I believe, w/ some things in brain/mind research. We have something akin to the Galileo thermometer.

NicoleCRust, to random
@NicoleCRust@neuromatch.social avatar

Ironically, I got to know Prof @kevinbolding here before IRL, despite the fact that his lab is on the same campus (and we might have the same boss? Dunno. Penn is a big, confusing place). In any case, we’ve now rectified that and I can attest: he’s a real person. And he’s great!

APBBlue, to random
@APBBlue@zirk.us avatar

So this happened a few blocks from my mom's house, so she can shut up about crime in D.C. now: https://cdapress.com/news/2024/apr/08/cda-man-charged-with-attempting-to-provide-support-resources-to-isis/

@NicoleCRust@neuromatch.social avatar

No way. Are you from the panhandle (too)?!
I grew up 45 miles East of CDA

@NicoleCRust@neuromatch.social avatar

SD! Yeah, the wackos …

brianvastag, to random
@brianvastag@sciencemastodon.com avatar

The awe and wonder you're seeing around the is why I became a science reporter. Nothing's cooler and more humbling than nature.

@NicoleCRust@neuromatch.social avatar

Hear hear!

NicoleCRust, (edited ) to random
@NicoleCRust@neuromatch.social avatar

What, if anything, makes mood fundamentally different from memory?

My new piece in @thetransmitter


You might hear, "Mood disorders are psychological, not biological." What does that even mean? Here I lay out not just this but five different clusters of positions around what mood and mood disorders are (along with a six that you might suspect but no one adopts).

I also asked researchers to chime in on the most effective path forward for mood research. The diversity of opinions is insightful, and telling.

In my own mind, mood is among the most challenging functions that exist. We'll need all hands (and all perspectives) on deck.

Insights from: @awaisaftab, Austin Coley, @eikofried, Steve Hyman, @amygdaloid, Lisa Monteggia, @russpoldrack, Lauren Ross, Robb Rutledge, Maryma Shanechi, Shan Siddiqi, and Eric Turkheimer

@NicoleCRust@neuromatch.social avatar


Thank you for this. Lived experience is such a crucial part of the path toward understanding.

axoaxonic, to random
@axoaxonic@synapse.cafe avatar

A lot of people are posting a video by Sabine Hossenfelder right now, and I'm not going to comment on the video or the points and discussion, but I wanted to post this video detailing her problematic views on trans issues, how she promoted (in a biased-centrist way) the harmful, TERF-associated, and unfounded view that gender affirming care for trans kids is a social contagion leading to "rapid onset of gender dysphoria," while making claims that transitioning before puberty is harmful https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6Kau7bO3Fw Also there's a line where she offhand belittles people who say early gender affirming care saves lives

"Whether or not she meant to, she repeatedly used a misleading rhetorical device to elevate transphobic talking points to the same level as scientific evidence, and she did that in front of a very large audience"

@NicoleCRust@neuromatch.social avatar


@NicoleCRust@neuromatch.social avatar

@axoaxonic @mrcompletely
This pains me so much! Why? Why? Why?!

@NicoleCRust@neuromatch.social avatar

@mrcompletely @axoaxonic

Appreciated. I note it's a choice. You can mix up good and less good stuff in provocative ways. Or be like @Sheril and do it more admirably.

neuralreckoning, to random
@neuralreckoning@neuromatch.social avatar

If you're considering a life in academia it's worth watching this video and deciding if it's worth it to you or not. All of this is true.


For me the answer is yes, despite all the problems, for two reasons.

Firstly, I'm lucky enough that I do have considerable freedom to work on the things that I'm interested in. If I was more interested in success or if I was on a 'soft money' position and forced to chase constant grants, I don't know if that would be true. But, such luck is rare.

Secondly, as a socialist I would feel very uncomfortable spending my creative energy on most of the non-academic things I'm qualified for: advertising and surveillance (i.e. tech companies), finance, or startups (making venture capitalists even richer). I could imagine academia getting bad enough that I'd make that choice, but for me it's not there yet. I completely understand that it is that bad for others and I mean no criticism of them.

In a way I suppose this is a sort of defence of academia, but it's a half hearted one at best. I think it's absolutely tragic and depressing that academia has become like this. Doing research should be one of the most joyful and creative things anyone could do with their lives.

@NicoleCRust@neuromatch.social avatar

Thanks for this. I watched. Good to discuss.

I don’t deny anyone’s experience. Thus story is horrible and I believe that all this happened to her.

That said, I’m worried about encouraging the next gen to watch this video as representative of academia and decide if they want to sign up. I certainly don’t agree that all the statements in the video about science at large are true!. Certainly if I experienced what she experienced, I would leave too. The thing I’d like to emphasize is that we aren’t all experiencing that (and this is why we stay; we’re not suffering hopelessly). I would go as far as to say with confidence that hers is an extreme case.

I acknowledge that I’m coming from a position of good fortune here, surrounded by other fortunate people. And we have to be careful about survivor bias, absolutely. But let’s also be equally careful about making academia sound like a horror show. (I suspect that wasn’t your intent here! But could be interpreted that way maybe?)

@NicoleCRust@neuromatch.social avatar

@elduvelle @neuralreckoning

As a few examples:

Academia isn't about knowledge discovery; it's about money making.

Science is a money making machine in which students and postdocs are burnt out to bring in money for the institution.

Most of academic research that your taxes pay for is almost certainly bullshit.


I'm not claiming that she isn't raising some important issues about the scientific pipeline and how women/families are treated. These are important and we need to address them! But by mixing them in with these over-the-top (and I would say misleading and inaccurate) statements - I just don't see how that's productive.

@NicoleCRust@neuromatch.social avatar

These are great (and fair) points. And absolutely - there's a lot we need to fix (inside and out). 💯​

It's these points we need to focus on, I think (and not obscure them in the other "bullshit").

@NicoleCRust@neuromatch.social avatar

@UlrikeHahn @neuralreckoning
This is a really insightful take!

@NicoleCRust@neuromatch.social avatar

@elduvelle @neuralreckoning

Yes! These are important topics for conversation, absolutely. I agree. (In fact, earlier this week I had many of these on a slide in a talk). We are unified in wanting to pinpoint problems and find solutions, for sure.

NicoleCRust, to random
@NicoleCRust@neuromatch.social avatar

Where is humanity heading?

Great podcast breaking down the rate of tech advances and what they might extrapolate to. Brilliantly described in an accessible way in terms of growth rates, phase transitions, and equilibriums. Really thoughtful.


helenajambor, to datascience
@helenajambor@mastodon.social avatar

Everyone, drop what you are doing - SPURIOUS CORRELATION now has a companion site, SPURIOUS SCHOLAR - that WRITES AN ACADEMIC PAPER based on the spurious correlation! Because "if p < 0.05, why not publish?" 😂


#Academic publishing #CorrelationIsNotCausation #DataScience

Al academic paper (Because p < 0.01) - "The Elijah Wood Effect: A Cinematic Correlation to Orderly Occupation in Oklahoma" Reminder: This paper is Al-generated. Not reall Show prompt used to generate this paper

@NicoleCRust@neuromatch.social avatar


brembs, to random
@brembs@mastodon.social avatar

Compare what experts like @alexh


or @Luke_Drury


think of the new Gates' policy ending the support of journal-based academic publishing, with a news-type article in an academic journal:


That comparison should tell you all you need to know about which organizations are on the side of scholarship, and which are its adversaries.

@NicoleCRust@neuromatch.social avatar

@brembs @alexh @Luke_Drury
Which I can’t even read b/c I ran out free articles 😂!!

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