Sunday, April 04, 2010

Lazy linking - science and skepticism edition

A few science and skepticism links that I thought I'd share.

* J. David Jentsch ask people in the LA area to Stand up for science on April 8. Jentsch is one of the scientists who has been targeted by animal rights terrorists because of his animal research.

* A new study shows that Spanking sparks aggression, does little to reduce behavior problems in children. One of the techniques studied (spanking) is illegal in Denmark, but the others are certainly still used.

* An interesting take on the use of statistics in science: Odds Are, It's Wrong. Personally, I don't find the article entirely convincing. Yes, it's true that there are possibilities of false positives and negatives, but it seem to me that enough studies should clean up these problems. I find the complains about meta-studies puzzling, and while I can see the author's point in a perfect world, we have to work with the material at hand. Still, it's a good article, and I think scientists conducting studies would do well to keep its points in mind.

* I can't remember where I found this link (almost certainly at a feminist blog), but I thought that it was well worth sharing. It's an article in Stanford Magazine about Stanford professor Clelia Mosher who probably was the first to do research into female sexuality: The Sex Scholar.

* Occasionally I come across people who seem to think that the cause of ice ages are unknown, which puzzles me, since I thought it was well-established that they were caused by shifts in the Earth's axis. Apparently this wasn't quite as well-established as I thought, or at least not for as long as I thought - I came across a ScienceDaily article from August 2009 which explains that this was now the established explanation: Long Debate Ended Over Cause, Demise Of Ice Ages? Research Into Earth's Wobble

* David Colquhoun tells us that the University of Buckingham does the right thing. The Faculty of Integrated Medicine has been fired. One less place educating people in woo.

* Over at Alice in Galaxyland there is a great report about a recent event at Skeptics in the Pub in Wincester: Skeptics in the Pub: Unnatural Predators by Jourdemayne at Winchester. Certainly makes me wish I had been there (though I am happy to have been spared the journey described).

* And finally, a shout-out to a fairly new blog. When I was in Perth in January, I met up with the Perth Skeptics on the last day I was there (which is when they participated in the 1023 mass suicide by homeopathy event). While I was there, I talked a bit about skepticism in Denmark (not much of it around) and blogging. One of the participants was thinking about starting his own blog, and after my talk he took the plunge - so I present to you Friend of Reason. There is some good stuff there.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Alice said...

Many thanks for linking to my lecture write-up. The journey was worth it, I promise! But then, I wasn't coming from Denmark . . .

Is there not a lot of skepticism in Denmark then? I would have thought that would be a rational, well-educated sort of country. Is there a lot of woo there? If not, maybe the skeptics aren't much provoked. Or am I totally mistaken?

Will try and follow up your other links - great post!

April 04, 2010 2:03 PM  
Blogger Kristjan Wager said...

Denmark is pretty weird - there is a lot of woo that's widely accepted, and it's considered really bad taste to criticize other peoples' beliefs, be they religious or otherwise.

April 04, 2010 3:26 PM  
Blogger Karlo said...

The Odds are Its Wrong article creates more confusion than illumination. The one point that's true is that the word "significant" is unfortunate since it's misunderstood by many researchers and virtually all of the public (but that's why effect sizes are now required in most disciplines). Most of the other quibbles can be dealt with if a researcher goes through the correct steps of establishing plausible causal mechanisms and relating findings to previous research. In most cases, the myth of the stand-alone study that proves something once and for all is something for fifth-grade science classes. Even with statistics and ample data, reality tends to be complicated. Even so, statistics certainly help us make sense of all the confusion.

April 10, 2010 12:36 AM  

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