Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Links post

Dog stuff
Local food/food safety stuff
  • Faeces and flies “found” at US egg farms tied to illness (BBC News): “Officials say chickens’ contact with animal faeces and wildlife are among the main causes of concern as they investigate the source of the salmonella outbreak.” I really hope this story is not spun into “chickens are healthier in cages where they can't come in contact with wildlife.” Infectious disease is a problem when animals live in too-close quarters. Well-managed farms can balance allowing chickens room to move around with disease management. I assert that I am safer eating eggs from backyard chickens (plenty of room to move around, plenty of grass to clean their feet off on, where one sick hen is not going to make all her neighbors sick, because they are not crammed together), even if those chickens interact with wild birds, than eating eggs from factory farms. I don’t have scientific evidence to support this because the studies have not been done (and are hard to do — there are a host of different factors between those two environments to control for).
  • ButcherShop (Sugar Mountain Farm): Creative solutions to the lack of slaughter facilities in the Northeast: “We are building our own USDA/State inspected on-farm slaughterhouse and butcher shop... Since banks have not been lending we are bootstrapping the construction from our own cash and selling CSA Pre-Buys where customers get free processing in exchange for buying early.” Lack of local slaughter facilities for small farms is the major impediment to an increase in the number of farmers producing humanely-raised meat in the Northeast. Read more about shortage of slaughterhouses, particularly in the Northeast.
Meta-science stuff
  • How to make a difference – Responsible vaccine advocacy (Science-Based Medicine): Nice article about how to approach the problem of spreading your viewpoint, recognizing that repeating facts over and over is probably not very effective.
  • Good example of a tag cloud for blogs. This is the interface I really want to see on a larger scale.
  • Online science blogregator
  • Peer Review and the Internet (Science-Based Medicine): “Imagine an alternate process by which an article is published online, either on an open site or a secure site that only experts have access to. Then dozens or hundreds of experts can comment on the paper, providing feedback directly to the authors in addition to the editors, who can also respond to the commenters. The result would be more of a dynamic conversation than you get with the current review process. But most importantly, in my opinion, is that you would get a broader range of opinions, and a far greater chance to detect error or bias. An editor or editors can oversee the process, and once it has played itself out the final version of the paper can be published to the public, and become part of the official literature.” Sounds great. One question I have: how do you know when “it has played itself out”?
  • Asking “Who’s a journalist?” is so 2007 (Global Vue): Proposes a list of questions we should be working on now. (It’s nice when posts don’t just explain why a question is a bad one, but constructively offer alternative questions that we should be asking.)
  • Supplementary Information: should I stay or should I go? (Martin Fenner): Nice collection of the blog posts about supplemental information and the implications of the Journal of Neuroscience's recent decision to stop accepting it. Fenner comments “This is a perfect example for why we need better systems to track blog posts relating to an article.“ I concur.


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