Articles to 2019-08-23

Zum Seitenende      Übersicht Artikel      Home & Impressum

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


In Calvo-Agudo et al. the figures 1b left and 2b left seem incompatible to and contradicting each other. An easy to make and, incidentally, easy to correct error. (The line patterns in 2b are reversed.) But it's one more opportunity to ask my standard question: Have the six co-authors even read the article they all claim to have written? Do they all accept equal responsibility for the mistake? If not, why are they authors?


Tavits & Pérez underpin a central tenet of Orwell's 1984 and the established practice of religions and totalitarian regimes. If you're able to enforce language, you can influence thinking. As far as I can tell this is an uncontroversial and established fact and all known dissident groups need to coin their own mnemonic wording to be able to hold on to their thoughts. So is this another example of scientific advice for effective thought control? For that it would first need to be scientific. Is it?

As the first point and one it shares with many other studies of the kind, this is an extremely short-term point intervention. Its effect is measured minutes after the event. Will permanent inundation with the same compound the effect or will habituation set in? As a general rule of thumb, homoeostasis tends to settle on a new equilibrium offset from the starting point in the opposite direction of the disturbance. Climbing four sets of stairs raises your blood pressure and makes you short of breath. Is sports bad for you and should you rather preserve your already diminished strength? Quickly draining two large glasses of water also leads to a short spike in blood pressure. Is permanent slight dehydration good medical advice? As a general rule when dealing with humans and other living things, the short-term direct effects tell us nothing.

Secondly what is it that Tavits & Pérez report? Except for three name frequencies (in the penultimate paragraph of page 16785) we are, as always, given no data all and for those we lack any reference values to compare them to. What is the prevalence of “unisex” names in the general Swedish public? In languages I know they tend to be rare to nonexistent. A given effect may be statistically distinguishable from zero and still be meaningless. The one absolute effect given is a slightly over two percent rise in profemale preferences. How quickly does that wear off and how large does a group need to be to notice it above the noise? Everything else we're given are regression coefficients none of which are explained. What do they even mean? First of all, coefficients like these are no dimensionless numbers, but never once are we told what was measured and in which units. In the irrelevant table 3 we're at least given the numerator of the coefficients' unit which is seconds. For age the denominator may be guessed as years. (Since when has it become acceptable to style a scientific report as a riddle?) With an offset between the two base values of 250 s and a coefficient of 5.6 s/a we arrive at an average age of 45 a, which is confirmed by supplementary table 2.2. The other variables, pronoun treatment and college education, are yes/no variables probably coded as one and zero. So a college education takes eight years off your age for the time it takes you to fill in a form. Nice to know.

For all other tables in the study there is no single case where the numerator of the coefficient dimension is given, neither are there any base or reference values. So what does “0.273±0.034” mean? Is it a little or a lot? What base value and spread can it be compared to? We're not told, only that it is statistically significant at the 5 % level. So what? One more non-study cluttering up the literature and faking science. Little bamboo sticks poking out behind the ears and from a distance looking like antennas as in Feynman's brilliant simile.

Zum Anfang      Übersicht Artikel      Home & Impressum

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License Viewable With Any Browser Valid HTML 4.01! Valid CSS!