Articles to 2016-02-13

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


The minds behind the Retraction Watch website confirm what I have been saying for ages and that the common press coverage is completely beside the point:

Question: Is it different when a team member discovers plagiarism by such a high-profile person?

Weber-Wulff: The only difference is that the press reports only on high-profile persons when they are politicians. The plagiarisms that trouble me more are those by people who are currently working in academia, either as professors or as researchers. How will these persons be able to teach good academic practice, when they obviously were not able to demonstrate it in their own theses?


Seeing Frazer et al.’s headline, I began by being extremely doubtful. I need not have been. Being Cochrane the stressed all the pitfalls and confounders and they themselves called the strongest of their outcomes to be of moderate quality only. If anything their headline turns out to be stronger than the conclusion as it so often happens and we should all be wary of.


If you happen to observe an exceptional occurrence and do a statistical analysis, you’ll probably find, that it is indeed rare. Rare things happen every day (see David Hand, list of 2015-07-30). All that Schaller et al. manage to demonstrate – again – is, that with enough tuneable parameters you can make a model produce any outcome you like to see. Their own figure 3a shows the total absence of any trend. Were it not for the exceptional last years the trend would have been falling since about 1990. Admittedly there was bad flooding again this year, this time in the north, but there the reason has been shown to be the recent spate of building in flood plains and discontinuation of dredging.


Bonatesta et al.’s result is nice but meaningless. It’s a lot of expensive effort for a few percent saved in the low power regime that contributes little to the overall consumption. Compared to the repeatedly demonstrated real life saving of 20 to 25 % from teaching drivers to avoid this lowest load area of the load-map it’s nothing.

What I can’t help noticing is this though: Just moving the timing en bloc while keeping the total valve opening time and area constant belongs to last century’s sixties to eighties. I’m extremely surprised that variable valve timing still has not advanced any further when experimental and working setups for doing just that have been around for over thirty years now.

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