Articles to 2015-05-07

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

Price et al. and van Boeckel et al. paint a clear picture, that can result in only one thing: The youth of today will again see their grandchildren die of infectious disease, just as the lost siblings of their great-grandparents did. As evolution tends to make diseases less virulent in the long run of adaptation and as inoculation will probably continue to work, the new diseases can be expected to be much more vicious and horrible than the traditional ones. Cure by antibiotic will turn out to have been a transient episode of history.

One often sees arguments like Callaway’s (p.598) based on mitochondrial DNA. I don’t understand them at all. The whole point about mtDNA is, that it’s not mixed and gives you pure data on just one lineage. Dipping into a population five times gives you a 50 % chance of completely missing lineages that are 13 % abundant, which to my mind is anything but rare. MtDNA is totally inappropriate for testing the non-existence of anything. (At the 95 % confidence level and with five dips you can only exclude prevalences of more than 55 % 45 % for anything.) For another example see the mixing of Neanderthals and moderns, which used to be excluded based on mitochondrial DNA.

Fischer & Mitteroecker don’t plot data but only highly derived, unusual, and insufficiently explained derivatives. Looking at the numbers given, head circumference at birth displays an extremely low heritability in the first place and the normalised regression slope of pelvis size vs. head circumference is only about 10 %. The assumed adaptation lowers the encountered variation and thus the risk of a mismatch by something in the order or 3 %, i.e. the opposite of the claimed result. Smaller women tend to have smaller hips, that seems to be all that is to it.

Weissgerber et al. explain in detail and with many well chosen examples, why so many articles in psychology, sociology and epidemiology are meaningless junk.

About Syria and ISIS and the whole Middle East we are bombarded with all kinds of propaganda, with liberal freedom seekers morphing into criminal terrorists at will in a most 1984-like manner. The one thing we don’t get is first hand information. A rare exception is the Swedish daily newspaper Expressen and its interview with Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.

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