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Articles to 2016-05-02

May 2nd, 2016

Apologies for the prolonged leave of absence – moving house absorbs an inordinate amount of time, but now things are beginning to drift back to normal.

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

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Sex and gender are both purely social concepts and open to free and unconstrained reinterpretation. From reading Vikbladh it seems that the utter nonsense of this idea is finally beginning to dawn on the artsy chattering classes. Read the rest of this entry »

Articles to 2016-04-06

April 6th, 2016

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My short evaluation of Berkowitz 2015 (list of 2015-11-06) was based on the scant information from their article itself. Frank has generously taken on the task of reevaluating their raw data and given us his figure 2, which should have been in there from the start. What we see is a totally amorphous and widely spread data cloud with no discernible trend whatsoever. Of course mathematically, calculating a regression will always yield a result and the slope will never be exactly zero. And of course the more parameters you have, Read the rest of this entry »

Articles to 2016-04-01

April 1st, 2016

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In a striking example of political correctness Mattson more or less verbatim states: “Radiation hormesis has been demonstrated in many experiments, but we refuse to accept it, as that would draw the rug out under the religiously required demonisation of nuclear energy.” Eppur si muove!

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Articles to 2016-03-25

March 25th, 2016

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Looking at the comment by Gilbert et al. and the reply by Anderson et al. I shall disregard both their arguments’ merits and take Gilbert et al.’s most optimistic numbers of 85 % and 66 % at face value. What do they mean? The unspoken and unproven but implicit and generally accepted meaning of “statistical significance” is, that only 5 % of results occur by chance and 95 % (or at least well over 90 %) should be replicable. This holds for the borderline significance of p=0.05. Most studies I read are less than p=0.01 or even p=0.001. So the implicit claim is that at least 99 % of them ought to be successfully reproduced. They aren’t. Something very basic is very much wrong with the results and the reporting in the psychological and sociological sciences.

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Articles to 2016-03-19

March 19th, 2016

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I have seen and commented on many sociological and psychological findings of dubious substance, relevance, and (non-statistical) significance, but Schilke et al. have set a new low. In a reply to comment they seriously cite a correlation of less than r2 = 0.01 to bolster their argument. How many zeroes behind the decimal point do you need before you can call a correlation nonexistent?

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Articles to 2016-03-11

March 11th, 2016

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It seems the years 1998–2012 have been the driest in the Levant for at least 900 a. And according to Cook et al. it is of course all down to man-made global warming. Let’s look at the details. I can’t fault either their data nor their methodology, both are sound and reported in detail. What we see are the last decades being unexceptional around the Mediterranean, with no serious dry spell since about 1960 (the scale doesn’t help to be more precise). The cyclicity even suggests, we’ve had it good for some time now and a new spell of drought is due. So what we have here is a strong regional anomaly. In general, and there are many examples for this, regional climate is more strongly influenced by local vegetation cover and albedo than by world averages. Read the rest of this entry »

Articles to 2016-03-04

March 4th, 2016

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Interleukin 6 is an inflammation marker that can also rise under stress. The normal value in healthy subjects is about 1 pg/ml but it can rise up to 1000. Creswell et al. report on the success of “mindfulness meditation” in lowering a heightened IL-6 value in long-term unemployed subjects. Both arms of the randomised study had normal and statistically identical values to begin with – 1.81 ± 2.03 and 1.21 ± .76 pg/ml. The slightly elevated value for the intervention group looks like most participants with normal and one or two with spuriously high values – as always data are not given. Four months after the intervention both groups show exactly identical values at 1.45 ± .78 and 1.41 ± .73 pg/ml. (I have converted the given SE back into the correct SD here.) If anything, all this study shows is the regression to the mean of a spurious difference in initial conditions.

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Articles to 2016-02-27

February 27th, 2016

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I’m not sure Frenda et al. has any meaning at all. Let’s look at the context. All of the subjects were voluntary participants in a study and well aware of the fact. In all probability they were all WEIRD, i.e. well off, educated, aware of their rights, and not easily intimidated by authority. Even if one of them were to damage expensive equipment it would take evidence of malicious intent for the university to do anything about it. All of them hadn’t slept all night, were tired, and this was the last step before they would be able to go home and lie down. Now is there any plausible reason, why the more impulsive among them should not just say “what the heck” and be done with it?

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Articles to 2016-02-21

February 21st, 2016

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There is a tendency to fawn all over nasty superiors. According to Matthews et al. a better strategy would be to shun and ignore them as much as the rules of politeness barely allow.

Articles to 2016-02-13

February 13th, 2016

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The minds behind the Retraction Watch website confirm what I have been saying for ages and that the common press coverage is completely beside the point:

Question: Is it different when a team member discovers plagiarism by such a high-profile person?

Weber-Wulff: The only difference is that the press reports only on high-profile persons when they are politicians. The plagiarisms that trouble me more are those by people who are currently working in academia, Read the rest of this entry »