Articles to 2015-02-07

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

As Smith et al. report, the Fukushima plume has finally arrived on America’s west coast in earnest, doubling the bomb testing fallout and expected to double yet again by next year. Are thousands to die? Well, at its expected peak of 5 mBq/kg the sea water’s radioactivity from cesium will be about one twentieth of the normal human body’s, mainly from natural K40.
    So all this really shows is the incredible sensitivity of radioactive measurement yet again. Perhaps Fukushima’s cesium will rival the famous rubber ducks as a device for elucidating the world’s currents.

In their instructive article about Philistine origins Middleton makes one big mistake. “Using stable isotope analysis to investigate the sources of dietary protein in LBA mainland Greek populations, Petroutsa and Manolis (2010) found that most animal protein came from the milk and meat of sheep, goats and cattle, rather than pigs.” It is impossible to make this kind of discrimination from isotopes and Petroutsa & Manolis claim no such thing. They simply don’t mention pork in their summary, presumably because it’s not important.

Although the climate evolution and temperatures of the Holocene have long been textbook material, they tend to be strongly kept quiet about and replaced by hockey sticks. So it’s quite refreshing to be reminded by Chen et al. that the last decade’s “unprecedented” temperatures obtained for over a thousand years around the time of the European Neolithic. And of course the warm times have always been the good ones while the cooler ones have brought trouble, as this article’s main theme exemplifies.

The opening chapters of Wunn et al. mention cognitive and evolutionary approaches but reject them. Then follow the same old theological, sociological, and psychologizing explanations about understanding the world and coping with fear. After the promise of the subtitle a deep disappointment lacking any new insights.
    After the origins are left unexplained and in darkness they continue with an overview of the further development from the Neolithic to the three Abrahamitic world religions. While it’s not wrong and in fact quite stimulating to call upon some speculative minority views here, they are presented as the established majority consensus to the lay reader. Sources and references for their claims are generally done away with.
    A work that misleads the lay reader and withholds the main thing from the insider, a pity.

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