Articles to 2011-05-19

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According to Johnstone the much vaunted Teamfähigkeit can lead to arbitrariness in decisions, if there’s too much of it around. Some people need to put the subject at hand above their standing amongst their peers.

Kean reminds me of Feynman again. After giving a talk about Mayan hieroglyphs he commented "She’s trying to bring some culture to the physicists and the only way to do it is to get a physicist."

The answer to Zimbardo’s question (Miller) may partly lie in the demise of the East. All dissidents are heroes if they managed to die in time, live dissidents are an embarrassment. Nice, easygoing, accommodating people tend to succeed wherever they are and not to rub people up the wrong way. They soon became valued members of Western parties or whatever team they’re in and no one holds their past against them. Dissidents on the other hand tend to have somewhat grating personalities and not to get on all that well. They were sought out and recruited into parties, but nearly all of them were bullied out later or left in a huff of their own volition. Whistle-blowers don’t only criticise those up-there, they are the type even to criticise me, which most people don’t like. Whatever institutional rules are in place, they are unlikely ever to get promoted again – and potential whistle-blowers are aware of it.
A case in point is this feature on WDR Radio 5.

I already know Holm from Wikipedia. He barges in on subjects, he doesn’t really know a lot about, like radiocarbon dating, deletes swathes of other people’s stuff wholesale (not mine, this is not personal) and ignores requests asking for explanations or reasons. He seems to think everybody else is an idiot unaware of the most basic facts. This tone pervades the current article too, where he keeps going on about "Schmidt’s theory", where in reality Burghart Schmidt noticed a correlation he had no theoretical explanation for and empirically tried to find how far it led. Contrary to Holm’s assertion in footnote 2 Schmidt of course uses the middles and not the ends of his intervals as the time for his homogeneity values. On page 123 Holm accuses Schmidt of disregarding the decreasing trend in ring widths with the tree age, completely ignoring that this is exactly what the Hollstein index is for. From the context it’s obvious that where Schmidt speaks of autocorrelation he actually means the first autocorrelation. Holm’s contention that genuinely cyclic processes do turn up in the Hollstein indices too is completely beside the point.

Here’s the link to this week’s complete list.

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