Articles to 2012-08-10

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

Nature is really getting their bit between the teeth about the deluge of junk clotting up the journals with an editorial and a comment, ganging up on geneticists this time. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof (Carl Sagan) and should be tested, not cited. Katz 1938 is one of the sensational new discoveries my father shot down in both his diploma and doctoral theses – was able to shoot down because in his time, the early fifties, replicating others’ published results was still seen as worth graduate students’ time and university departments’ limited funds.

Mathematically pure, structure free randomness is hard to find in the real world, meaning you’ll find something in everything if you throw enough statistical tools at it. Which is why MacArthur is on the right track advising to visualize data. From there I go with John Brignell of "If you can’t see it, it ain’t there."

Maxeiner & Miersch and Newman et al. offer two takes on how to report facts and science in modern mass media. In a more honest and less politically correct era it was called lying. Combined with a widespread reluctance, even among scientists and graduate students, against referring back to primary sources, the damage done is hard to overestimate.

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