Articles to 2013-03-10

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

Zhu et al. convincingly show that horizontal gene transfer rises in step with antibiotic resistance. Our short interlude of curable disease is all but over, we’ll soon be back to sitting up and praying as our grandparents did.

ter Bogt, McCarthy and Robertson ought to please me, as they seem to confirm my pet hates and prejudices. And they would too, if there were more substance to them. Again we are not shown any raw data and variances whatsoever and nothing by which to judge correlations and possible dependencies ourselves. Instead ter Bogt confronts us with statistical shenanigans where the parameters of a polynomial regression of a time series are individually regressed on the putative dependent variable. Causation and mechanism are not even hinted at. That someone with antisocial tendencies who’s prone to criminality may enjoy playing loud music known to annoy elders in authority is a trivial statement. Of all observable personality traits music may well be among the least predictive here. Their figure 2 is an obvious fraud. There is no way that 11 quadratic regressions will all match each of four data points exactly without a single outlier in 44 measurements.

Robertson et al. come a little nearer to giving us data, though all they’re showing is still highly aggregated. Reasonable common causes are addressed insufficiently and cause and effect are not proven. Viewing hours vary over far too small a range, there are no participants without a TV or with little viewing. Much as I’d like it to, this proves nothing.

I really like McCarthy’s attitude, which boils down to "We finally have proof that TV does actual damage, so let’s stop trying to do something about it." Nice one. All in all it looks like too many graduate students with too few meaningful thesis projects to go round.

Lynn Dicks really takes the biscuit. "Never mind if mass media print and broadcast downright lies and the plebs are lied to as a matter of course. As long as our small aristocracy of career politicians get the facts everything’s fine.

I’ve no idea how Meier made it into a prestigious journal. Only three glaciations in total in the last two million years? A mostly ice-free ice age? Really?

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