May 4th, 2006



The NY Times поместила почти разгромную статью по проблеме научных т.н. 'peer-review' публикаций.

Recent disclosures of fraudulent or flawed studies in medical and scientific journals have called into question as never before the merits of their peer-review system.

...Virtually every major scientific and medical journal has been humbled recently by publishing findings that are later discredited. The flurry of episodes has led many people to ask why authors, editors and independent expert reviewers all failed to detect the problems before publication.

...Journal editors say publicity about corrections and retractions distorts and erodes confidence in science, which is an honorable business. Editors also say they are gatekeepers, not detectives, and that even though peer review is not intended to detect fraud, it catches flawed research and improves the quality of the thousands of published papers.
However, even the system's most ardent supporters acknowledge that peer review does not eliminate mediocre and inferior papers and has never passed the very test for which it is used. Studies have found that journals publish findings based on sloppy statistics. If peer review were a drug, it would never be marketed, say critics, including journal editors.

...A widespread belief among nonscientists is that journal editors and their reviewers check authors' research firsthand and even repeat the research. In fact, journal editors do not routinely examine authors' scientific notebooks. Instead, they rely on peer reviewers' criticisms, which are based on the information submitted by the authors.
While editors and reviewers may ask authors for more information, journals and their invited experts examine raw data only under the most unusual circumstances.

...Many nonscientists perceive reviewers to be impartial. But the reviewers, called independent experts, in fact are often competitors of the authors of the papers they scrutinize, raising potential conflicts of interest.
Except when gaffes are publicized, there is little scrutiny of the quality of what journals publish.

For Science's Gatekeepers, a Credibility Gap May 2006


PNAS, March 2006
Microparadigms: Chains of collective reasoning in publications about molecular interactions

Paradigm Magazine


Три аналогии для генома: какая предпочтительней?

Richard Dawkins' analogy
The genes are sometimes described as a blueprint, but they are nothing like a blueprint...A favourite simile is a recipe, where the body is a cake.

Richard Harter's analogy : Library in a town of idiots.

Power Spectrum of Fourier Transform

Однажды в частной беседе я предложил собственную аналогию, когда хотел подчеркнуть нежесткость связи генотип-фенотип...

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Что же говорит современная наука об умственных способностях птиц?

Ранее я уже размещал материалы на эту тему (+ video) (+ video)

1. Свежее интервью с З. Зориной (д.б.н.), проводящей когнитивные эксперименты с птицами:
"Потенциальная психика и запасной ум у этих птиц совершенно колоссальный. Пока что все тесты, которые мы можем придумать, они решают."

2. Noam Chomsky's work on 'generative grammar' led to the concept of a set of rules that can generate a natural language with a hierarchical grammar, and the idea that this represents a uniquely human ability. In a series of experiments with European starlings, in which several types of 'warble' and 'rattle' took the place of words in a human language, the birds learnt to classify phrase structure grammars in a way that met the same criteria.

Nature, April 2006
Recursive syntactic pattern learning by songbirds

Some linguists strongly disagree. "I'm not buying it," said Geoffrey Pullum, a linguist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and co-author of The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language.
For one thing, he said he doubted that the rules the scientists used to build songs had much to do with the important features of human language. Dr. Pullum also argued that the tamarin and starling experiments used "sentences" that were too short and simple to detect any thought process involved in grammar.

"It's purely about bird abilities, I think, and not about the foundations of human abilities," he said.

Dr. Chomsky also rejects Dr. Gentner's conclusions. He suggests the starlings are merely counting rattles, storing the number in their memory, then counting warbles. "It has nothing remotely to do with language — probably just with short-term memory," he said.

The NY Times

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