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First the link to this week's complete list as HTML and as PDF.
Garbe et al. is another psychological study whose methodology is so lousy as to render it completely meaningless. Just two points (there are more): The highest number of stored rolls they ask for is 21. Yet they mention that a single standard pack in the shops may comprise 32, at least in the US. So someone, who bought one single pack some time ago and has already used up a third of it, is counted as a stockpiler by them. Secondly their study comes too late. That may be unavoidable and in practical terms they acted rather quickly, but still by the second half of March the hoarding phase was over. At that time the shops were already depleted for quite a while. So every non-stockpiler, used to buying when down to the last spare roll or two, would have realized he could no longer rely on finding a pack just when it's needed. So it's a very rational decision to lay in one extra spare pack before the previous one is used up. This has nothing at all to do with stockpiling in the sense they are looking at, but it will still serve to exacerbate an already bad situation and is probably what was really happening at the time of their study, well after the original hoarding rush. That plus their weak, near invisible signal – again not shown in a recognizable format, but what else is new – makes all of their study completely meaning- and worthless. Why do people bother, except as make-work to secure cushy tax-payer funded jobs?
Let us, for the sake of argument, provisionally accept two tacit key assumptions made in the letter to the American Mathematical Society as reported by Nature News: a) police forces are inherently racist and b) modeling key crime areas works. (N.B: There are good arguments to doubt both.) If this were the case, what would withdrawing help result in? Obviously police would follow their racist inclinations and go to where they assume crime to concentrate. If the models do anything, then that can only be to draw forces away from those prejudiced assumptions. So why withdraw them? Could it be that they tend objectively to confirm police assumptions that are politically labelled racist, and that where reality clashes with ideology it is reality that has to yield? Looks like it to me.
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