Den postkoloniala maktordningen

I efterdyningarna av uppståndelsen kring Miljöpartiet, Mehmet Kaplan och Yasri Khan skriver Masoud Kamali, professor vid Mittuniversitetet, i Svenska Dagbladet 25 april 2016. Det är ett ovanligt tydligt exempel på hur en postkolonial debattör försöker utöva härskarteknik. Kamali skriver:
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Tror liberaler på samhället?

There is no such thing as society.

Margaret Thatcher (Wikiquote)

Både socialister och konservativa kritiserar liberalismen för att den bygger på en individualism som ignorerar eller nedvärderar samhället. Ovanstående citat av Margaret Thatcher används gärna av socialister som illustration. Konservativa kritiker hävdar att den liberala agendan leder till samhällets atomisering genom att sociala och mänskliga sammanhang offras på den personliga frihetens altare.

Även en liberal kan ha anledning att ställa sig frågan om liberaler verkligen tror på samhället. Inte i betydelsen om vi har förtroende för samhället, utan snarare om vi tror att samhället alls existerar.

Låt mig ta ett par konkreta exempel på att liberaler ibland resonerar som om samhället inte alls existerar.
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Open Science: challenges for life science

I have created a page Open Science with links to interesting discussions and information about Open Science, especially issues related to life science (bioscience). I hope to add more links to the page as I find them. I may also discuss some of them in this forum. Please feel free to send me tips.

The latest addition to the page is a very good recent article in The Economist about the emergence of bioRxiv, the pre-print server for life science. Publication of research in life science is currently under stress for many reasons. As the article in The Economist discusses, the delay between submission and publication of an article in life science may cause real damage. The peer review system is showing serious signs of dysfunction. Too many publications present results that cannot be replicated.

The Open Science movement is gathering momentum, in part as a response to these issues. Many challenges and issues lie ahead, and we are in for a very interesting time. Science, especially life science, must find new ways of doing things. Data storage and publication is one of these issues. The web is obviously already the medium of choice for scientific publication, and we need to leverage its advantages. I intend to write more about these issues in the near future.

I have published an opinion piece on Open Science in the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter

I have published an opinion piece in an on-going debate in the culture section of the main Swedish daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter (in Swedish, of course): Vetenskapens problem handlar inte om fusk (”The problems of science are not about cheating”), 6 April 2016.

It’s a response to Roland Paulsen who wrote Studier i rent nonsens (approx. ”Nonsensical research”) 30 March 2016. I do not so much attack Paulsen as use his article as starting point.

The issues with errors abounding in science is part and parcel of science in progress, I maintain. We need to focus more on how to weed out errors as we progress, rather than worry mainly about cheating and sloppiness. Open Science is the way forward, and institutions as well as attitudes need to change to allow this. In particular, an infrastructure that allows scientists to work easily with and for Open Science needs to be developed.

Read more in my previous two posts: The mess in bioscience data handling and What is important, and what is not, for bioscience data handling.

What is important, and what is not, for bioscience data handling

There is an on-going discussion between the main bureaucratic players of Swedish science regarding the issue of data storage and data handling for the biosciences in Sweden. The question they discuss is ”who should pay for what, and how should the money be channelled?”

It is exactly the wrong question.

Since all of these actors (except for non-governmental organisations, e.g. KAW) are financed by tax-payers money, it is a technical budget issue how they decide to finance things. There seems to be a strange idea floating around that if one fiddles with the financing paths, the whole problem of data storage will become more maintainable. This is, in my mind, to miss the point entirely.
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The mess in bioscience data handling

Science is a social activity relying on knowledge sharing, reproducibility, reanalysis and extension of previous work. The movement towards Open Access publication and Open Science sharing of data and analysis protocols can be seen as a natural development of these ideals. Large data sets are essential to many scientific investigations and are sometimes the product of an investigation. The biosciences have fairly recently started producing large data sets. There are several well-funded international efforts maintaining focused bioscience data sets, such as genomes at Ensembl, protein sequence data at UniProt, and many others.

Bioscience researchers are performing more Big Data experiments, but the various infrastructures available at the group, department, university and national levels are unable to cope. The situation for individual research groups is basically a mess. Various ad hoc solutions are being implemented, ultimately leading to a patchwork of systems that is becoming increasingly difficult for anyone to navigate. This also makes proper implementation of Open Science extremely hard, if not impossible.
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