Articles to 2012-08-19

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

Nature has another comment about science fraud. This relentless barrage of verbosity is beginning to look like a smoke screen, hiding, at best, nothing being done. Looking more closely at Macilwain we find that there is. The chosen answer seems to be building up yet another tier of bureaucracy to hamper academic science. The one thing not done is research itself. Every primary school textbook still carries the definition of science as being about reproducibility and reproduction, but just that’s what’s not done anymore. And again the real problem of fraud and falsification is conflated with plagiarism and misattribution. While the latter two harm individuals, who of course deserve (and already enjoy) the protection of the law, it is only the former that undermine the endeavour of science as a whole.

About 20 000 deaths in the Tsunami, 600 premature deaths caused by the evacuation and a best guess of 130 world wide due to the radioactivity from Fukushima. Those numbers from Ten Hoeve say it all.

Hayano, quoted in Science Insider makes two important additional points. One, there is no such thing as an excess death from any cause whatever. The only reasonable measure to use is years of life (or health) lost. Two, he is absolutely right in his criticism of the linear no threshold model; it is known to be widely wrong at very low dose rates. In spite of that I’ve always advocated it and shall continue to do so. It’s simple to understand, easy to use, always errs on the safe side, bends over backwards for nuclear critics and still does not set goals the nuclear industry finds hard to fulfil. So why enter a bottomless model debate?

Morean et al.’s results are plausible and unsurprising. Still from an article lacking a single (scatter-)diagram or other graphic representation of data I see no foundation for any conclusions whatever. Compared to Feynman’s cargo cult this one lacks even the outer trappings.

The affluent demographic transition is a well established fact. With energy becoming ever cheaper, at least in the long term, and ubiquitous machines supplying support that a short time ago could only be had from a body of servants even the poorest in current industrial societies live the life of the former upper class. Kushlev et al. now supply the mechanism by demonstrating that the self-centred world view of the affluent make children undesirable.

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