Articles to 2012-06-01

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

Berna together with Carmody 2011 provide new support for Wrangham’s disputed fire hypothesis.

Yong has another take on the decline and fall of the empire of science and led me to Simmons, Nelson & Simonsohn, who say it all: "Our goal as scientists is not to publish as many articles as we can, but to discover and disseminate truth. Many of us— and this includes the three authors of this article—often lose sight of this goal, yielding to the pressure to do whatever is justifiable to compile a set of studies that we can publish. This is not driven by a willingness to deceive but by the self-serving interpretation of ambiguity, which enables us to convince ourselves that whichever decisions produced the most publishable outcome must have also been the most appropriate."

One more point about the reluctance to stand by negative results. A hypothesis to be proven has the form "from A follows B". A failure to replicate is just that and the possible "lack of skill" is a distraction. If, in addition to what’s needed to gain a degree in the field and what’s listed in methods, an additional personal skill is needed, that amounts to an extra condition C, giving "from A and C follows B". Thus the result that A => B can’t be replicated has to stand and in fact disproves the hypothesis as stated.

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