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First the link to this week’s complete list as HTML and as PDF.
Distinguishing between the effects of different causes is difficult when many things are implemented together and everybody does nearly the same thing at nearly the same time. Also the fact of some measure not being obligatory in a certain place at a certain time does not mean people are not following well known advice anyway, neither does mandating something make everybody follow it. Mitze et al.’s whole argument – at least the part of it shown here – rests on a short term blip observed in one single city. It is undoubtedly indicative of a possible effect but certainly not the quantification and proof Mitze et al. claim it to be. See also Soltesz et al. and last week’s caveat by Fögen.
One point I keep banging on about in this blog is articles not showing raw data but only regressions and tabulated regression coefficients. The two contributions by Marcus on an artifact published in 2014 show exactly why. To my mind the old rule of thumb
“If you cain’t see it, it ain’t there” still stands as does Feynman’s admonition to take away two or three points at the extremes and see whether a correlation still stands.
The legend of Paleolithic hunters actively controlling their fertility and maintaining their population sizes in constant equilibrium is still consistently being taught at Cologne University. As Socialist experiments have convincingly demonstrated, a top down control towards an economic optimum is unattainable even with far better data perception and reliable input from large areas than small semi-isolated bands can possibly have had. One more convincing proof against this fallacy is offered by Page & French’s point 4. Hopefully this nonsense will soon go away in the usual way in science – through pensioning and replacement of its proponents.
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