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I regularly read nature, science, PNAS, Current Anthropology, Journal of Archaeological Science, American Antiquity, Antiquity, Archäologische Informationen, Archäologisches Korrespondenzblatt, (most of them on paper – my one big indulgence and luxury) and whatever tidbits I’m led to by finding them being mentioned somewhere. Whoever happens to share my particular can find a list of all the highlights of the current week, together with abstracts and the personal comments I feel compelled to make, here.

For the time being the archive of older entries also resides in my now defunct old blog which offers a search.

(17-05-21) Articles to 2017-05-21

Reading Taylor et al. on the spread of horses around 1200 BC I can’t help but wonder if the very first of the recurrent Mongol invasions might not have occurred near the time of the breakdown of the Bronze Age societies. It can’t have been the only or even main reason, but could it have added one more to the diverse triggers all coming together at nearly the same time?

(17-05-14) Articles to 2017-05-14

For some time now I’ve warned about how indiscriminate squandering of precious natural gas in large electricity plants, where coal could be used just as well and where cleaning up flue gases is easy and cost efficient, would inevitably lead to a resurgence of coal gasification. As it happens China has now begun doing just that.

(17-05-06) Articles to 2017-05-06

Why is it that I all too often read long articles from the humanities and, try as I might, fail to detect anything resembling a meaningful content? In the SAA’s membership journal Michael Smith (an archaeologist, not a scientist this time) gives a lucid summary about what distinguishes a study with a worthwhile substance from one without. Required reading for all undergraduate students of the humanities, IMnsHO.

(17-04-29) Articles to 2017-04-29

If Eemian presence of humans in America, as reported by Holen et al. and Hovers, really can be substantiated, the next question is: Who were they, Neanderthals from Europe, Africans, Denisovans from East Asia or yet another group entirely?

(17-04-22) Articles to 2017-04-22

As befits the author, Eco is a wonderful book and great fun to read. But more than that, it is, despite its age, of great practical value. When Eco wrote it in 1977, the Italian academic system was in crisis and graduates had to write their theses ill prepared, under resourced, lacking time, and under financial pressure – in fact, under just those circumstances as the German system has been driven into in the last decade. In this current state of affairs his section 1.2 is, I believe, the best advice one give today.

(17-04-15) Articles to 2017-04-15

When Liebrand et al. find their data to be at variance with the political majority approved models, it is, of course, the measurement, that has to be wrong, never the modelling. And then there come Ludescher et al. and recklessly throw another spanner into the works. As most religions tend to find, it’s hard to stay a devout believer these days.

(17-04-07) Articles to 2017-04-07

Both liberals and conservatives accuse each other of ignoring the science and neglecting critical scientific thinking in favour of following their given preconceptions. It is a valid and relevant question what exactly both sides mean, when they speak of science. Shi et al.’s is a novel, powerful and valid method to answer just that question and just like all new and untried methods its first results need to be scrutinized with care.

(17-04-01) Articles to 2017-04-01

Unless I’m seriously overlooking something important, the abstract, discussion, methods and main text in Dowlati et al. all four seem to imply that a) all subjects in both groups knew the purpose and aim of the study, and b) no placebo was used and all subjects were well aware of being either in the treatment or in the control group. Unless I’m totally wrong here, this study is utterly useless.

(17-03-24) Articles to 2017-03-24

The results by Schmidt et al. are well founded, but aren’t they trivial? Has it any bearing at all on fake news and its distribution?

(17-03-17) Articles to 2017-03-17

First the link to this week’s complete list as HTML and as PDF.

(17-03-11) Articles to 2017-03-11

Whatever your academic subject and whatever your political persuasion, Spinney is required reading for everybody. Also see Kahan et al.

(17-03-02) Articles to 2017-03-02

The environment of Beringia was not that different from that of Siberia at the time. If, as Amorim et al. say, there is a strong selection in the first wave of Native Americans similar to that found in Inuit, then that is much more compatible with the conditions postulated in Stanford & Bradley’s Solutréen hypothesis.

(17-02-24) Articles to 2017-02-24

It would be very easy to quibble with Janssen et al.’s modeling. The terms in their equations alternate between overly detailed, overly simplified, and wrong. But the value ranges chosen for all their parameters look like a very sensible order of magnitude, making theirs an eminently welcome contribution to a highly understudied field of enquiry.

(17-02-18) Articles to 2017-02-18

I have often criticised over reliance on and religious belief in computer models and shall probably continue to do so. Bassis and Chen however are two examples of well designed, simple, and comprehensible models that are actually helpful and explain a lot.

(17-02-12) Articles to 2017-02-12

Nothing much to comment on this week but one point I failed to make last week for lack of time.

(17-02-05) Articles to 2017-02-05

First the link to this week’s complete list as HTML and as PDF.

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Ordinary people’s choices are seldom as stupid and ill-informed as ivory-tower sociologists make them out to be. Are engineers really as sought after as Rozek et al. try to make out? From all I hear about career opportunities, pay offers, and forced early retirement, it does not look like it. What in American society are the real prestige jobs ...

(17-01-28) Articles to 2017-01-28

First the link to this week’s complete list as HTML and as PDF.

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Helen Czerski’s The Physics of Everyday Life is exceptionally cheap at only 11.24 € for the upcoming paperback. If it’s only half as good as Engel claims it is, it may make the ideal gift for less science oriented friends.

...

(17-01-22) Articles to 2017-01-22

First the link to this week’s complete list as HTML and as PDF.

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To my knowledge Croft et al. is the first report about a female menopause and grandmothering in a non-hominid species and should provide a good test for its differing explanatory hypotheses.

(17-01-15) Articles to 2017-01-15

First the link to this week’s complete list as HTML and as PDF.

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The first reports on oxytocin a few years ago led some to ideas, that a small addition to our drinking water or similar might solve all our social ills. As Samuni et al. demonstrate, the hormone and its Janus-faced counterside have been part of primate evolution for quite some time.

...

(17-01-08) Articles to 2017-01-08

First the link to this week’s complete list as HTML and as PDF.

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Cheon & Hong start from a plausible hypothesis – high ranking primates are known to monopolise high value food sources making it desirable for lower ranking ones to over indulge whenever there’s a chance. Unfortunately their study fails to prove their case and is systematically unsuitable for doing so. ...

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