Articles to 2013-12-20

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

McNulty et al. is the purest and most blatant piece of Cargo Cult I’ve ever seen, including draft undergraduate essays. There isn’t a single table (except for secondary data in the supplement), results are scattered throughout the text. The single figure is pure fraud. Points and errors shown have nothing whatsoever to do with data and only show the outcome of forcing a linear relationship onto the data whether appropriate or not. The "data points" are just points of the best-fit straight line (so it’s no surprise they all perfectly fit on it) and thus are meaningless while the supposed error bars have no connection with the fit of line to data but indicate the range of lines that might fit the same underlying data equally well. No real data are shown anywhere, neither in the article nor in the supplement. For conscious attitudes versus satisfaction they report a negative slope with positive r. Assuming the common and generally accepted meaning of their (unexplained) r, it has to have the same sign as the slope, it is r2 that’s positive definite. Their first reported correlation on page 1119 has an r = 0.00 to three significant digits, a result that’s near enough impossible with real-life noisy data of any kind (not for r2 though). So all we have are meaningless data plucked from thin air, some of them obviously wrong. I trust the referees are all respected scholars and acknowledged experts in their subjects, which says a lot about some scientific disciplines as a whole.

Ding et al. is rather confusing. The Neanderthals developed in Europe over hundreds of millenia while the spread of AMHs to Asia was extremely rapid. So why should the former have preserved an African gene beneficial in the tropics and subtropics while the latter, never leaving those latitudes en route, lost it? The only sensible explanation would be for the latter to wear clothes while the former mostly didn’t, something that fits with former research, see Gilligan (list of 2011-01-14).

The intensive breeding program for more resistant and deadlier pathogens is continuing to show results. According to Filloux and Skurnik et al. they may be even more successful than previously thought.

One point Dalén et al. completely fail to mention is that their closely related western Neanderthals stem from a rather small region while the more diverse eastern ones are scattered nearly all over Eurasia. This alone may well be quite insufficient to explain their data but is does warrant at least a little consideration.

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