Friday, June 17, 2011

The Zombie Apocalypse

I recently posted on longevity in the US and the fact that it varies fairly widely by County.  At the time I made my source anonymous, since the reflector we are both on has a non-attribution rule.  My source, Dr Tracey Lynn Koehlmoos, subsequently told me that
as an academic, I live to actually see my name acknowledged in everyone else's work.  Bad enough to live under the gun of needing to participate in whopping twelve publications per year, but the true measure of success is not the number of publications but rather how many times others cite my work.  I could go on for hours about the perversity of the Hirsch Index and my almost absolute sense of powerlessness to increase my Hirsch Index.  So, thank you for the call out as someone in South East Asia, but next time you have my blatant encouragement to please, please mention my name.
I had never heard of the Hirsch Index.
The "h-index" was introduced in 2005 as a metric for estimating "the importance, significance and broad impact of a scientist's cumulative contributions."  It takes into account both the number of an individual's publications and their impact on peers, as indicated by citation counts.  Its creator, Jorge Hirsch (UC-San Diego) asserts that a "successful scientist" will have an h-index of 20 after 20 years; an "outstanding scientist" will have an index of 40 after 20 years; and a "truly unique individual" will have an index of 60 after 20 years or 90 after 30 years.
Ah, the academic life.  Publish or perish.

Regarding the earlier post, linked above, Dr Koehlmoos noted the following:
You asked specifically about the loss of life skills due to single parent families.  I think that the single parent families versus life skills are an entirely different issues.  Years ago did research on the benefits and harms of single v. dual parent families—and of course, the take home message of this research that is highly available says to STAY MARRIED FOR THE SAKE OF THE KIDS—as long as no one is being beaten or otherwise abused.  It primarily has to do with the financial stability that the entire family gets from living in a single household.  Divorce is a financial and emotional drain from which the participant family members rarely emerge unscathed.  Apparently, single parent households are very much the same (although like everyone else who reads this, I can point to widely successful examples of one parent raising her child/children alone and with great success—but it is the look at national statistics that speaks in favor of outcomes from two parent families.  I am liberal enough also to acknowledge that the make up of two parent households does not necessarily have to be one man/one woman—but I cannot spout statistics on the children of same sex couples, except to say that they are more likely to experiment with same sex partners than children of heterosexual couples regardless of the child's sexual orientation.)

In health, we look at health outcomes among single v. dual parent households—or actually, in the census term: female head of household.  Again, the indicators come out in favor of dual parent households.
I think we thought the opposite for a while, but this agrees with what I have heard for the last ten or so years.

Incidently, Professor Keohlmoos blogs in the medical arena, including this entry today, "Can developing country health systems prepare for complex disasters (the “zombie apocalypse”)?".  At this time she is living in Indonesia.

Regards  —  Cliff

1 comment:

Tracey Perez Koehlmoos said...

Dear Cliff;
Thank you for the shout out--and global explanation of the development of the Hirsch Index. Who knew that this bane of my existence only appeared in 2005!