Articles to 2016-11-12

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


In discussing direct, human observable cause-effect relationships correlations of R2≈.2 or R2<.05, as used by Key et al., ought to be seen as utterly beyond the pale. Both their main regressions in figure 4d and e seem to stem from the group of outliers above 150 and 250 seconds alone. Do they perhaps all go back to the same participant and the tools he was allocated by chance? This possibility should at least have been discussed and excluded, but I find no mention of that.


The study by Li et al. was conducted on mice and so can’t be directly applied to humans. It does show the possibility of significant neurophysiological differences between the sexes, though. Rising to the very top in highly competitive environments is generally seen as an exceptionally stressful endeavour. Thus an inherent difference in the ability to cope with stress will make itself felt just like differences in IQ, in diligence, in industry and more. Advocacy groups all too often confuse equality of opportunity and equality of outcome and fail to account for and accept valid reasons for the latter.


Friedkin et al. introduce a folk psychological explanation for the dynamics of belief systems and then build a rather simple and obvious mathematical model, which, as they demonstrate, can reproduce their expectation. A nice and successful exercise as far as it goes, but what is it supposed to prove or explain?

In a value laden discussion on the application of Friedkin et al.’s result Butts tries to solve the problems an orthodoxy encounters in trying to force its views onto an entrenched minority of recalcitrant dissidents. Let me explain the problem.

I am well aware of the established truth, that the world was created 5777 years plus a few weeks ago. There is ample proof in the relevant literature and a complete scientific consensus among all the relevant experts. Differing opinions are mostly held by self-educated outsiders. In spite of this I hold on to my beliefs in Australopithecines and Ice Ages millions of years ago. Sound silly? Perhaps. But then I have neither made nor seen most of the relevant experiments behind the scientific edifice of physics. The few experiments and measurements I did make myself, relied on instruments and a framework I had not checked and took on trust. And on top of that, to be quite honest, having experienced the making of science from the inside I see strong similarities to the making of laws and sausages. So what, a priori, is the science and what the (errant?) belief? The conduct at least of the IPCC and its adherents is an appeal to authority and numbers and reminds more of “A hundred physicists against Einstein” than of good science and open data.


Veal et al. discuss the possible confounders to their data themselves, but, I believe, without enough emphasis. Most of the charcoals in the hotter parts of a fire will burn up completely and leave only ash. Those left over are just the ones that failed to get hot enough. I would also consider reflectance to be one of those properties least resistant to taphonomy, especially over thousands of years and especially on highly reactive surfaces like those of charcoal pores. (As these microscopic surfaces occur inside the macroscopic sample, nothing much is gained by breaking it up and creating a new macroscopic face.) So my guess is, the method is unsuitable for determining the relevant temperature at the centre of a fire from basic principles and won’t ever be improved enough to do so.

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