Articles to 2023-01-08

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


In Li et al.’s figure 5 ab the isotopic values for wheat and barley are nearly identical. What differs are the arbitrary cut-off points taken from Wallace et al. 2013. As pointed out last week and earlier for the primary source that boundary is pure phantasy.


There are quite a few reasons to question Weinmann et al.’s results. First they make no effort whatever to treat even the most obvious confounders. To name but two there are habitual deceivers vs. honest ones in an unaccustomed and stressful situation. And second there is the triplet of age, frequency of computer use and device. These interact. Elderly and infrequent users are prone to use laptops with more less dodgy touchpads while frequent and professional users will more probably access a desktop with a high quality pointing device. (No, I’m not claiming these are important, I’m not clairvoyant. All I say is, it should have been tested whether they are or not.) None of their reported results is germane to the question at hand. Yes, at the group level the typical fraudster may differ significantly from the typical honest person. But given the extremely wide and unpredictable scatter of the intra-group results, how good is the predictive success in picking out the fraudsters? The authors give no hint at even having tried to measure that value.

But all that’s an aside and not my main point. As their central premise before even starting the experiment the authors consider it to be perfectly normal to observe and monitor web visitors while they are sitting passively reading in front of their browser window without making any input, far less submitting it. Whether they watch the visitor picking his nose, scratching his paunch or doodling with his mouse pointer, this is a criminal and indisputable act of intrusion of privacy. They seem to show no shame or compunction whatever. More so by their own report these surveillance data are sent off to a third party server, not the site the subject is actually visiting. There is no technical reason for that surveillance server not to be placed in Russia, China, or North Korea. If anything is unethical scientific misconduct, this is.

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