10 June 2010

Daily Digest, 10.06.2010

Heute: Clay Shirkey's new book; the perils of street walking (sort of); bad science funded by Big Milk; Batesian mimicry; relaxed selection and the evolution of language; more on Hare-gate; paleolithic erections.

Jonah Lehrer has a useful review at BarnesandNobleReview.com of Clay Shirky's Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age. Cory Doctorow (or as I think of him, The Man Who Apparently Never Sleeps) has also posted a brief and more enthusiastic review at Boing Boing.

Jonah also has an interesting new piece at The Frontal Cortex on the cognitive distractions of walking down a city street.

More bad science. Big Milk funds a study that finds (surprise!) that people who drink a lot of milk had lower risk of heart attack than those who don't. Trouble is, the study doesn't bother to control for confounders.  But it was widely reported anyway... See the story at Weighty Matters. I stopped drinking milk in November, and between that and other dietary changes, I've lost 30 pounds since the beginning of the year. And I don't have nearly as much phlegm, so it's easier to sing. Just sayin' ....

Zen Faulkes at NeuroDojo nicely summarizes the main points of a new review of Batesian mimcry (as when a perfectly fine tasting Viceroy butterfly mimics the appearance of the foul tasting Monarch):  D. Fennig and S. Mullen (2010), "Mimics without models: causes and consequences of allopatry in Batesian mimicry complexes," Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.  The full text is free. Wheeee!  (Perhaps everyone in scholarly publishing is feeling that they need better PR today because of the threatened University of California boycott of Nature Publising Group......nah, can't happen.)

Over at Replicated Typo, James Winters has posted an excellent summary of Terrence Deacon's article "A role for relaxed selection in the evolution of the language capacity." This is one of the group of articles on human evolution recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that are available for free download. I hope to start reading these....as soon as I close some more of these damn tabs.

A couple of weeks ago, I linked to a post at Mind Hacks on the forensic psychologist Robert Hare's legal threats that blocked (for four years) the publication in Psychological Assessment of an article (one that had already passed peer review) by Jennifer Skeem and David Cooke that criticized PCL-R, the Hare Psychopathology Checklist. Vaughan at Mind Hacks has an update today: apparently, Skeem and Cooke's article, "Is criminal behavior a central component of psychopathy? Conceptual directions for resolving the debate," has suddenly appeared. (It is behind a paywall, and costs $11.95.)

Vaughan plausibly suspects the motivation for the sudden appearance of the long-delayed article is the publication in this week's Science of a story on the case. Unfortunately, the article in Science is also behind a paywall, and costs $15.00 for 24-hour access. The article is Tim Wogan: "Scientific Publishing: A Chilling Effect?"

Vaughan follows this with (ahem) a pointer (with a picture) to the article "Male genital representation in paleolithic art: erection and circumcision before history," in the current Urology. The article is behind a paywall, alas, and costs $31.50. I had to go through an elaborate sign-up procedure in order to find this out, which included (because of restricted choice) my having to tell a minor untruth. No (for those of you who wanted to schedule appointments) I am not a psychologist, although I play one on TV.

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