Best Recent Thing Published In Your Field?
January 8, 2015 7:36 AM   Subscribe

Inspired by this, I'm interested in seeing what MeFites would nominate as the best thing (paper, article, book, presentation, etc.) from your field in the past 10 years or so.

The papers in the linked blog post served as a great introduction to modern thinking in that field for me. So what about other fields? What about YOUR field?

Maybe its a paper that caused a paradigm shift in your discipline, or maybe its a talk that blew your socks off, or maybe an article that gave you a new perspective or new skills. Or maybe its something you disagree with but was an undeniably significant contribution. Not picky. What do you got?
posted by AceRock to Grab Bag (13 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

Dan Kahan and colleagues' recent work on cultural values and climate change beliefs has been revelatory.

This paper is fairly technical and shows how people's values influence whether or not they believe scientific experts are credible and knowledgeable and whether or not there is a scientific consensus about things like climate change or the safety of nuclear power.

This article (pdf here) is a little less technical and shows that science literacy doesn't seem to be a cause of people's disbelief in climate change. In fact, the most scientifically literate (and numerate) people are the most polarized in their climate change beliefs.

Kahan isn't alone in these types of studies, but he's been one of the leaders. He has several other papers along these lines and they're critically important in showing that people's climate change beliefs are largely determined by their values rather than their knowledge. Information may be necessary to change people's minds about climate change, but it sure isn't sufficient. Important stuff.
posted by griseus at 8:43 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm going to go with Priem, J., & Hemminger, B. M. (2012). Decoupling the scholarly journal. Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience, 6. doi:10.3389/fncom.2012.00019

In the interests of full disclosure, I am a colleague of both of the authors, but I really believe this work is groundbreaking - not just in my discipline (information science) but for science in general.
posted by k8lin at 9:51 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm a professional limit Hold'em player and this book was a lot better than any other book on the topic. I've read almost every book on limit Hold'em. This book helped ruin the profitability of limit Hold'em by creating too many expert sharks. Hold'em book on amazon
posted by crawltopslow at 10:11 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't call it the best, but it was one of the most exciting for me personally: Edward Vajda's proposal for the Dene-Yeneseian language family, which would link Dené languages (which includes Navajo) with Yeneseian languages of Siberia. (I linked to the Wikipedia page because it evolved out of a series of talks rather than a single article.) The reason I can't call it the best is that it's still not a slam-dunk; it probably should best be considered provisional, and there is some doubt Vajda will ever find the evidence needed to make it convincing.

What makes it exciting, apart from its historical significance, is that it shows there is still the possibility of finding larger language families without resorting to pseudoscientific methods. (This language family had been proposed before, but the proposals had serious issues; one of them was made by a well-known crank whose method almost always gives a positive result when he wants it to, and who proposed a bunch of crazy families.)
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 10:22 AM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

Before Google, big websites were run using extremely expensive disk arrays (something like 10x more expensive than the equivalent drive on your desktop). Think of difference between a Ferrari and a compact car. Expanding capacity meant buying even larger arrays, which were actually more expensive per disk, not less. Google figured out how to maintain a web-sized amount of data using huge quantities of ordinary disks and servers. They published a paper in 2003 about the "Google File System" explaining how. It's relatively light on jargon, and you can see how in 2004 Google was able to provide free webmail with a previously unheard-of 2GB capacity. All the cloud computing, web services boom, etc. that followed flows from that.
posted by wnissen at 10:22 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Other art historians would almost certainly disagree, but I would say that Anachronic Renaissance and Transporting Visions: the Movement of Images in Early America are two of the most fascinating books to recently come out of the field. They both push art historians to think about how artworks actually move through space and time and they both uncover fascinating explanations for why some paintings and prints look the way they do.
posted by LeeLanded at 10:44 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I work in the IT security field, and Bruce Schneier is the rockstar of security authors. His book, Secrets and Lies is a book you could give to any reasonably literate person and expect them to come away with a good basic understanding of the field. I've had one graduate class that used it as the text for the "Intro to IT Security" class.

Schneier also wrote Applied Cryptography, the gold standard of learning crypto, but it's really dense and really math heavy. The complete opposite of Applied Cryptography is Steven Levy's Crypto which follows several of the early crypto stars on their journey to crypto discovery. THIS is the book you could give to your Mom to have her learn more about cryptography.
posted by ensign_ricky at 11:09 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh man, without a doubt (toxicology, epidemiology, public health, chemical risk assessment, etc.):

Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: A Vision and a Strategy
National Research Council

There's a massive, total paradigm shift happening in fields related to toxicology. After a lot of handwringing about it, this is the tome that brought the first coherent wave of it to the US. It's powerful enough that it made me switch tracks in my field, out of an old-school lab and into a new-school nonprofit that's helping herd the cats that this report unleashed. I read/cite/reference it daily.

(Available for free download at the link)
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 11:31 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

For SAT Critical Reading prep, the best thing is Quizlet.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 4:52 PM on January 8, 2015

Everyone in the Startup sales world is talking about Predictable Revenue. It's pretty unscientific but it does show techie CEOs who have never sold anything how to hire, organize and supply with leads a team of salespeople.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:06 PM on January 8, 2015

Why Are Banks Holding So Many Excess Reserves? published by the NY Fed is one of the best things I've read on the excess reserves in the banking system resulting from QE and the relationship between reserves, interest rates and bank lending. Really interesting and accessible (I think) for a layperson.
posted by triggerfinger at 2:11 PM on January 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

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