Articles to 2013-08-09

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

Looking at Germany the snotty-nosed attitude in Fohrbeck, published by the trade union of German university teachers, seems rather unwarranted. Here too "one point", i.e. the highest achievable mark, has become synonymous to "passed" with the real grading hidden in the decimal places and the application of knowledge to real life is what humanities graduates have to leave to tradesmen. The Bologna bachelor has never been accepted as a university degree by anybody but administrators use it to cook their numbers anyway.

The main point about Kamenica et al. is that the single significant one among their four results is the only one they do not discuss at all. In fact the concluding last sentence of their discussion “television advertising may influence the efficacy of a branded drug” is simply a reiteration of the premise that made them start their inquiry in the first place and says nothing whatever about its results. They show that advertising actually depresses the given efficacy of a drug, but only for those with previous experience with this kind of drugs, who presumably compare the overblown promises with their own observation and reject being lied to. This seems an important new result to me and reminds me how I used to be told it wouldn’t hurt whenever I had an injection as a child. It did of course, the more so as it came unexpected. I made a point of never repeating that lie to my own daughter but rather said it was going to hurt but she’d be able to stand it. Of course she was and from the vantage point of her different expectation she used to declare it hadn’t hurt at all. I myself was always afraid of anything and everything regardless of what I was told, sensibly so imho, because just like a viewer of TV advertisements I expected to be routinely lied to.

My gut feeling is with Pinker, Keeley and others and like Culotta doubts Fry & Söderberg, but I’m not qualified to judge and have to wait for further developments. At least the question has now received the attention it deserves.

The extraterrestrial theory for the onset of the Younger Dryas has so far been justified by a world-wide iridium layer. Now Petaev et al. claim the same thing from a lack of iridium in a platinum peak. This debate looks likely to go on for some time yet.

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