Articles to 2013-03-18

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

All issues of Pysikalische Blätter have been scanned and made freely available. While still in high school I used to read my father’s issues and I remember reading about climate warming there first, very probably Flohn 1981. The quality of the source made me accept the claim and probably was part of what led me to Nuclear Engineering later.

I’m not really prepared to quite accept Pearce et al.’s Neanderthal hypothesis, based as it is on somewhat shaky evidence, but it does fir well with everything else known so far. Kasten 1974 is still a very good introduction into the field.

In general I’m all for Hodder-bashing, the more the better, but Carleton et al. is a textbook example for the misuse of statistics. Taking Ian Hodder’s hypothesis at face value[1] as they do there is one way to test it. You diacronically look at wall continuity in individual houses and count the number of graves. For, say, a hundred houses this gives you a hundred data points and a meaningful result. Too simple for them. What they do is add six more meaningless variables not part of the hypothesis and treat the occupation levels as data points. This reduces them to only nine points, albeit in eight dimensions. Now, even if they had been able to confirm a correlation, their method of treating wall continuity and burial numbers on a by-level basis deletes all information of whether it is the same or different houses they occur in. So even a perfect and strong result would have told them nothing about the hypothesis they set out to test. Another disconcerting point is their only giving wall continuity to a single digit where from their method I’d have expected at least three. They tell us nothing about the size of their sample except claiming it’s bigger than Hodder’s. Contiguous rectangular houses have two walls each. One digit for the fraction of continuity makes about ten walls or only five houses, which would be totally ridiculous if true. I have often been severely disappointed by the editorial quality or rather lack of it in J.Arch.Sci. This article ought never to have been accepted anywhere.

[1] I don’t see the logic in his claim. A clan with high continuity, referring back to one iconic founder, will hold that founder and his grave in special esteem, not shared by later descendants. It is those who grant older graves less of a special status, that bury their dead right next to them. I would expect continuous clans to have fewer, not more in-house burials.

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