Articles to 2012-10-26

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

At first glance Lavner et al. seem to disprove my preconceptions. Looking more closely their results are quite beside the point. High-risk small children have different and far bigger problems than those expected from same-sex parenting at a much higher age. Few children have ideal and perfect natural parents, that less than ideal adoption may well be far superior to no adoption at all is a truism.

Moss-Racusin and Mervis leave several questions open. I don’t have the raw data to prove it, but in all four subcategories female staff differentiated more between male and female students and I’d be very surprised if that very visible aggregate result were not statistically significant. Also, if a large sample of established and experienced laboratory leaders agree on something, ought one not at least to consider the possibility they might be right? It is well known that at a given ability and competence girls tend to be better at getting good marks and passing at exams than boys are. The German university placement agency used to mark up Bavarian and mark down Bremen grades before comparing them in spite of strong political opposition against this. Might not laboratory heads intuitively do the same and for equally valid reasons?

As Gopnik shows, it’s true and not a delusion of doting parents, (nearly) all small children really are very bright. This of course raises the question where all that cognitive ability goes to before young adulthood (dare I say humanities’ students?) Is it really lost or just suppressed as Esther Vilar (manipulated man) would have us believe? Is there a way to preserve or to resurrect it or is this what we have to accept as the result of domesticating ourselves and turning ourselves into zoo animals (Desmond Morris)?

Hornickel’s results are totally unsurprising and just what previous research would have us expect. But are they real? His central diagram is figure 2b. I have distorted it to make the axes equal in length and taken away the line. Now take a look. Undoubtedly there is some correlation. But is it meaningful? For children around 0.5 in response consistency, is there any predictive value here?

Orozco-terWengel et al. is another example for significantly enlarged mutation rates under environmental stress and speciation. This may go a long way to explain why the long-term average mutation rate seems to be twice the currently observable one.

Is Zheng et al. a resurrection of Mark Nathan Cohen’s food crisis? In part yes, but his explanation for the beginning of food production is to well disproven to be affected by this result. It is a reinforcement of the Malthusian view and an argument against voluntary reproduction limitation though. This latter view is based on a fallacious regard of the average instead of the recurring minimum carriage capacity.

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