Wednesday, November 16, 2011

They're Starting to Take Care of It

I'm sure many of my fellow nerds have seen an article purporting to claim that observers can see evidence of a possible ”love gene” in brief video clips (original article here). This far-reaching conclusion was based on a sample size of 23. The good news is that experts are starting to react:

But the paper has drawn harsh criticism from geneticists because of its small sample size. Daniel MacArthur, who blogs at Genetic Future, said, “[A simple size of] 23 for genetics means the paper might as well not exist. It carries no useful info. Without a larger sample and independent replication, it’s safest to simply assume these results are false.” Joe Pickrell from Harvard Medical School, agreed: “If the sample size is 23… there’s no way that’s a real association.”And Chris Gunter from the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology added, “The literature is full of behavioural genetics studies which don’t replicate, with similarly small numbers.”

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thin Evidence about Thin People Believing in Thin Ectoplasm

There is some evidence that skinny people are afraid of ghosts:

There are indications that subjects with schizotypal personality have a lower Body Mass Index. Also schizotypal personality is linked to a higher incidence of paranormal belief. In this study we examined whether low Body Mass Index is also linked to paranormal belief. In a pilot study 48 students of psychology (85.4% women) between the ages of 20 and 27 years were administered a questionnaire assessing weight, height, and paranormal belief. Analysis suggested an association between belief in paranormal phenomena and low Body Mass Index.

On the other hand, the evidence disappeared once they did a real study:

In a follow-up study with 300 subjects and equal sex distribution, the relationship was examined under control of schizotypy. The results for Body Mass Index could not be confirmed; however, paranormal belief was heavily associated with the cognitive-perceptual component of schizotypy.

Aren't ghosts also supposed to vanish in the light?