Kommentare zu Zeitschriftartikeln aus 2012

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(12-12-22) Articles to 2012-12-22

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The exact equality between male and female results seems a dead giveaway that something must be fishy in Gregoricka & Sheridan’s result. Looking at the urban setting of Jerusalem I expect the agriculture in its surroundings to have been quite intensive with lots of manuring. No samples of grain were measured and it’s rather probable that they and the bread baked from them were elevated in heavy nitrogen ...

(12-12-15) Articles to 2012-12-15

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The distribution of radiocarbon dates shows characteristic peaks and troughs stemming not from true temporally denser or looser clustering of finds but are artifacts of the calibration curve. Armit et al. offer a new method for trying to extract the signal from the data.

(12-12-09) Articles to 2012-12-09

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Looking at Lourenco et al.’s figure 3 their correlation between guessing precision and mathematical aptitude depends on very few outliers alone and is completely absent for the bulk of the data. Their claimed difference between geometry and arithmetic is patently nonexistent. In all another glaring example of a non-result.

I fully endorse Zorzi et al.’s remark in their reply to Skottun and Skoyles. The journals are full of purely statistically valid but practically meaningless results ...

(12-11-24) Articles to 2012-11-24

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Spikins goes a long way to explaining why all successful fraudsters and con men are well groomed Schlipsträger and why scruffy, though notoriously honest engineers never succeed in public office. It remains to be shown, whether disregarding these extremes grooming and focus on externalities are useful proxies for trustworthiness -- several results tend to suggest the opposite. Insofar as success is determined by superiors, may the willingness to submit to the meaningless dictates of fashion signal an unswerving follower unlikely to challenge authority in other ways?

(12-11-18) Articles to 2012-11-17

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Too much cleanliness is unhealthy, says Weinstock, and worms in your gut may well be good for you.

I’d like to quote one of the fathers of nuclear engineering, Alvin Weinberg (1972) on safety evaluation. A true engineer and his words are a far cry from the cavalier attitude of ideologues, like those trying to replace reliable stable power sources with unreliable and variable ones without proper storage or backup.

“Let me close on a somewhat different note. The issues I have discussed here—reactor safety, waste disposal, transport of radioactive materials—are complex matters about which little can be said with absolute certainty. ...

(12-11-10) Articles to 2012-11-10

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Scientific journals are not daily newspapers punctually delivered and the comment by Cartlidge in the current (to me) issue of science was written a fortnight before the verdict. It does provide a very good background summary though, ...

(12-11-03) Articles to 2012-11-03

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Schurger et al. summarily debunk the main and most important experiment behind the denial of true free will. Philosophically I find this result extremely pleasing and am looking forward to more in the same vain.

Marasco, but also Orozco-terWengel of last week, are two of many newer results about evolution not being completely random and at least partially reviving some of Lyssenko’s and Lamarck’s ideas. ...

(12-10-26) Articles to 2012-10-26

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At first glance Lavner et al. seem to disprove my preconceptions. Looking more closely their results are quite beside the point. High-risk small children have different and far bigger problems than those expected from same-sex parenting at a much higher age. Few children have ideal and perfect natural parents, that less than ideal adoption may well be far superior to no adoption at all is a truism.

Moss-Racusin and Mervis leave several questions open. I don’t have the raw data to prove it, but in all four subcategories female staff differentiated more between male and female students and I’d be very surprised if that very visible aggregate result were not statistically significant. ...

(12-10-20) Articles to 2012-10-20

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Ackerman has more on antibiotics. In addition science NOW report on MRSA detected in wildlife. (The primary source is unavailable except for the abstract.)

Where Callaway reports on criticism about the interpretation of Ashraf & Galor’s results (list of 2012-09-27) I failed to see their supposed correlation in the first place. ...

(12-10-14) Articles to 2012-10-14

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The mechanism documented by Jensen et al. or an analog may go far in explaining the frequently claimed efficacy of homeopathy in pet animals.

I for one am surprised by Myrskylä & Fenelon. I had always assumed that biologically, i.e. health-wise the traditional age of about 16–20 for first motherhood was an advantage over our modern 35. It seems I was wrong. ...

(12-10-05) Articles to 2012-10-05

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According to Davidai it is not personal values or morals nor even hassle or inertia that determines people’s choices and actions but their perception of what is "normal" and what the exception as governed by language alone – not fact. All successful dictators have known this for centuries and the first thing they all brought under their control was the public language. ...

(12-09-27) Articles to 2012-09-27

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The long awaited comments on Bayon et al. (list of 2012-04-16) have finally been published. Neumann et al. don’t convince me though. She and Bayon agree on climate being the primary driver enabling the forest to be settled and she herself assumes the ease secondary forest can be cleared with to have been taken advantage of. All Bayon claims is the observed pulse of erosion being far in excess of what can be explained by climate alone and showing a clear anthropogenic signature. Maley et al.’s objections seem far more founded but are convincingly countered in Bayon’s reply. ...

(12-09-22) Articles to 2012-09-22

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Frolich fails to ask the main question: Will triggering small and nearly imperceptible earthquakes suppress big and devastating ones or will they bring them about?

Statins very effectively control a symptom. Rahimi and Rosendaal provide another example of them not controlling the illness these symptoms strongly correlate with. ...

(12-09-08) Articles to 2012-09-08

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Finally somebody – Trimmer et al. – offers a possible explanation for the most important problem in medicine. The question here is not why a placebo induces the body to launch a full immune response but rather why an impairing infection without the placebo does not. Trimmer’s answer is the costliness of the immune effort, which according to circumstances may be higher than the cost of enduring the infection. ...

(12-09-02) Articles to 2012-09-01

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I wonder for how many other subjects beside biology Llamas’s result could be duplicated. Mathematics is the basis for quantitative thinking.

...

(12-08-25) Articles to 2012-08-25

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In Gillen-O’Neel we find yet another study that could be relevant if it weren’t useless. Full of statistical mumbo-jumbo and short on content it lacks even a single data point or even error bar in its two figures. This is cargo cult not even pretending to be science. At least in Cologne psychology is not placed among the sciences but grouped with music and knitting where it belongs. ...

(12-08-19) Articles to 2012-08-19

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Nature has another comment about science fraud. This relentless barrage of verbosity is beginning to look like a smoke screen, hiding, at best, nothing being done. Looking more closely at Macilwain we find that there is. The chosen answer seems to be building up yet another tier of bureaucracy to hamper academic science. The one thing not done is research itself. Every primary school textbook still carries the definition of science as being about reproducibility and reproduction, but just that’s what’s not done anymore. ...

(12-08-10) Articles to 2012-08-10

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Nature is really getting their bit between the teeth about the deluge of junk clotting up the journals with an editorial and a comment, ganging up on geneticists this time. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof (Carl Sagan) and should be tested, not cited. Katz 1938 is one of the sensational new discoveries my father shot down in both his diploma and doctoral theses – was able to shoot down because in his time, the early fifties, replicating others’ published results was still seen as worth graduate students’ time and university departments’ limited funds. ...

(12-08-02) Articles to 2012-08-02

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Shtulman & Valcarcel again highlight the importance of good primary and kindergarden education. Early acquired misconceptions will never be quite lost and still hamper highly educated adults. Typically just these professions recruit from students bad at and afraid of STEM subjects. ...

(12-07-26) Articles to 2012-07-26

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Halberda is another example, of how a statistically significant result is not at odds with it being completely meaningless. In his animated GIFs the ranges for the different mathematical aptitudes overlap nearly totally, the predictive value of his result is essentially nil.

Zorzi on the other hand is helpful, relevant, ...

(12-07-19) Articles to 2012-07-19

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Simonsohn makes a pertinent point about scientific fraud. Journals should admit their responsibility and do something about it instead of falsely framing themselves as the innocent victims.

All secondary reports, Schoeninger included, try to frame Henry’s result in terms of human ancestors. I can’t see why. ...

(12-07-12) Articles to 2012-07-12

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Eisenberg is a prime example of pure chartmanship. The only diagrams he shows are of the effect he does not discuss (and following the rule "if you caint see it, it aint there" these are meaningless) and his reported R2 is consistently below 0.05, i.e. pure noise. His largest possible effect in figure 2 is barely one fifth of the densely packed inner area of the scatter in figure 1 and neither variance nor standard error are given. ...

(12-07-06) Articles to 2012-07-06

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Witztum et al. is the primary source behind the Bible Code. As far as I can tell it has since been refuted by reproducing similar results from other works of literature. Rips, the main author, is a distinguished mathematician but no statistician. The referees chosen by Statistical Science were though, and they’d have preferred to be able to reject the manuscript but could not find a reason to do so. ...

(12-06-30) Articles to 2012-06-30

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There are two new articles on antibiotic abuse. Negishi confirms the rationale behind giving antibiotics for viral infections. Viral infection does indeed suppress the immune reaction against bacteria. By describing the mechanism Negishi et al. also open the way towards a more sensible treatment. Abt et al. demonstrate yet another downside of antibiotics, killing beneficial gut flora also impairs the antiviral immune reaction. ...

(12-06-23) Articles to 2012-06-23

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While seemingly confirming theory Fujita et al.’s result is decidedly fishy. As a well-off mother experiences less conflict between offspring benefit and cost to herself and as raising nutritional value beyond the optimum confers no benefit, we expect the sex difference to be low at high SES and high at low SES, contrary to the reported result. ...

(12-06-16) Articles to 2012-06-16

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Lager & Torssander report another spurious non-result from the humanities posing as science. In their table 3 they test for 42 outcomes and from the text another 84 (age under 40 and whole group) are untabulated. Out of these 126 tests 8, i.e. 1 in 16 come out as barely significant, meaning with a probability of 1 in 20 for occurring purely by chance. So what exactly is it they are reporting here and what did the referees do in their peer-review?

...

(12-06-09) Articles to 2012-06-09

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Concerning the various papers by McIntyre & McKitrick and McShane & Wyner I note:
- In no way do they invalidate climate reconstruction from proxies as such, their issues are solely with methods used in aggregating a huge number of proxies.
- As the models are trained on a short time span exhibiting two steep rises, ...

(12-06-01) Articles to 2012-06-01

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Berna together with Carmody 2011 provide new support for Wrangham’s disputed fire hypothesis.

Yong has another take on the decline and fall of the empire of science ...

(12-05-24) Articles to 2012-05-24

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As long as science is a career not a vocation (and in many subjects outside of engineering and physics the only career), that career is mostly furthered by the number of publications, and publication favours positive results over correct ones, new results over replicated and established ones, clear-cut results over ambiguous ones, and precise results over meaningful ones, I see no solution to the problem of science. ...

(12-05-19) Articles to 2012-05-19

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Borneman is little more than a credulous wall of verbosity. What stands out though is his completely uncritical retelling of the "Juliet" episode. It begins with a brother, who seeing he was only going to return from an orphanage six months later ...

(12-05-15) Articles to 2012-05-14

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Nature has a nice review of the current state of Out of Africa II with well done lists of current primary literature.

I hadn’t seen Caron et al. before and find it a very convincing refutation of Higham’s critique.

(12-05-06) Articles to 2012-05-05

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Ayres finds one more and a new consequence of antibiotic abuse, yet there’s still no sign of its abatement.

Piston and Hayden are related. If you don’t understand how it works, don’t use it, ...

(12-04-28) Articles to 2012-04-28

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(12-04-19) Articles to 2012-04-19

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I’m surprised at the space Arch.Inf. provide to Braune’s bit of esotericism. First off, by giving his MY to four significant digits he implies a precision in the order of a tenth of a millimetre. Then he goes on stating ...

(12-04-16) Articles to 2012-04-16

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Barham highlights a problem not only for schools but for the changes I’ve seen in universities since the early eighties. Semester exams used to yield only passed or not passed while the grading for Vordiplom and Diplom (loosely BS and MS) came from oral exams covering everything from all years. ...

(12-03-21) Articles to 2012-03-21

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As if widespread misuse of data dredging and applying single-outcome tests to multivariate analyses were not enough Nieuwenhuis et al. have uncovered yet another widely spread use of bad statistics....

(12-03-16) Articles to 2012-03-16

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In de Mel the effects for women dissipate after ten months. They do so too for men and there is no discernible difference after 12, 15, 18, and 62 months. There is one at 22, 25, 30, 35, and 68 months but these inconsistent results seem spurious and random and can hardly be said to result from the intervention. ...

(12-03-01) Articles to 2012-03-01

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The current issue of nature has a supplement for Alan Turing’s 100th birthday.

(12-02-24) Articles to 2012-02-24

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At first glance Luby et al. sounds very relevant. They go on in length about maternal support and maternal nurturance without once defining or operationalising these terms in the main text. Hidden in methods we find they are based on one single 8 minute instance in a highly artificial situation. ...

(12-02-16) Articles to 2012-02-16

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Well, well, social engineers with something to hide are so transparent. As Villeval states „Balafoutas and Sutter find that, with very few exceptions, the most able men are not overtaken by less able women.“, which immediately leads one to ask what about the less able ones? Supplementary figure one tells us: ...

(12-02-08) Articles to 2012-02-08

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Science editor Bruce Alberts cuts to the heart of the matter about education. As I frequently told my daughter, hoping repetition would make it stick, „Auswendiglernen ist das Gegenteil von Lernen“ (“learning by heart is the opposite of learning”) or, as Richard Feynman’s father put it ...

(12-02-01) Articles to 2012-02-01

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Seeing Hore and Crotty it seems some science is still being done.

In a radio talk last week (Funkhausgespräche, WDR 5, 2012-01-26) the physicist Martin Lambeck stated, that if homeopathy did indeed work, it would not just require an addition to current physics but rather result in a total collapse of the edifice of science. ...

(12-01-25) Articles to 2012-01-25

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Seeing the comments and reply to Halpern I find her original conclusions confirmed, which goes against my preconception, but thus are the facts.

On May 25th I wrote: "[Slimak’s] arguments against moderns are quite convincing too. So, could these be the elusive Denisovans?" Seeing the comment and reply by Zwyns and Slimak I now tend ...

(12-01-18) Articles to 2012-01-18

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The commentary by Beroza is wrongly listed under geology, it ought to be placed prominently in the social sciences, epidemiology and probably climatology. "A more subtle effect is cherry picking, which amounts to defining retrospectively the behaviour that is considered anomalous... They find, for example, that, when anomalous clusters are defined retrospectively, 30% of realizations of a Poissonian earthquake catalog will contain clusters that should occur less than 1% of the time." ...

(12-01-11) Articles to 2012-01-11

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There is a reason for the Flynn-effect and the need to renormalize the test results for each year cohort. In Brinch I fail to see anything more than a simple training effect.

Talk about standing things on their head. It used to be the case, that parents paid to send their children to school and many parents still do. I don’t want that back, as it ...

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