Pure Pedantry

Archives for October, 2007

Blogging on Peer-Reviewed Research

I don’t know if you caught it on these two posts, but I have started to add the Blogging on Peer-Reviewed Research Icon whenever I am analyzing a peer-reviewed paper specifically.

There is a really cool paper in Current Biology about the how even an animal’s sensory apparatus adapt to their particular evolutionary niche. Greiner et al. looked at four closely-related species of ants from the genus Myrmecia. (As you can see from the picture, these ants are also huge.) These four species are all relatively…

Writing in the City Journal, Theodore Dalrymple criticizes the equivalence of religion with the immoral and atheism with the moral: Lying not far beneath the surface of all the neo-atheist books is the kind of historiography that many of us adopted in our hormone-disturbed adolescence, furious at the discovery that our parents sometimes told lies…

Videos of AMPA-R Insertion

One of the mechanisms — perhaps even the primary mechanism — by which synapses in the brain are potentiated — made more sensitive to activation — is the insertion of more AMPA receptors (AMPA-R) into the synapse. AMPA-R are glutamate-activated, cation (Na and Ca) channels that are really the business end of creating the electrical…

CA Fires caused by the Devil?

California wildfires continue to blaze, but this caught my eye: Almost 200 square miles of California, including nearly 700 homes burned since the last official measure. But far fewer homes are threatened and more emergency personnel have arrived. Here are the key figures from California’s emergency management office (pdf): Burned: 666 square miles; 1,436 homes…

James Watson, Nobel Laureate and member of the Watson-Crick duo that discovered DNA, has been suspended from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory after some comments about race and genetics: James Watson, in London to promote a new book, was forced to return to New York after Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Long Island, relieved him of his…

Two Economics Lessons

I just finished Bryan Caplan’s The Myth of the Rational Voter. It was excellent, and I will review it when I get around to it. It uses the abysmal understanding of economics of the average American — even on a non-quantitative, intuitive level — to illustrate why voters choose bad policies. Anyway, the side issue…

Here is a must-read post on g-factor by Three Toed Sloth: Anyone who wanders into the bleak and monotonous desert of IQ and the nature-vs-nurture dispute eventually gets trapped in the especially arid question of what, if anything, g, the supposed general factor of intelligence, tells us about these matters. By calling g a “statistical…

Power Laws and Cities

Bettencourt et al. in PNAS looked a variety of cities of various sizes. They wanted to determine what the effect of population size of the city has on their properties including physical properties like roads, but also economic properties like consumption. What they found was very interesting. What they found was that 1) these properties…

From the Economist, medicine is not going well in rural China: Since 2004 the government, for the first time, has been giving direct subsidies to grain farmers in an effort to keep them growing grain and to curb grain-price rises. This year the subsidies are due to rise 63%, to 42.7 billion yuan ($5.7 billion).…