Saturday, September 12, 2020

 A summary of the state of social science

Criticizing bad science from an abstract, 10000-foot view is pleasant: you hear about some stuff that doesn't replicate, some methodologies that seem a bit silly. "They should improve their methods", "p-hacking is bad", "we must change the incentives", you declare Zeuslike from your throne in the clouds, and then go on with your day.

But actually diving into the sea of trash that is social science gives you a more tangible perspective, a more visceral revulsion, and perhaps even a sense of Lovecraftian awe at the sheer magnitude of it all: a vast landfill—a great agglomeration of garbage extending as far as the eye can see, effluvious waves crashing and throwing up a foul foam of p=0.049 papers. As you walk up to the diving platform, the deformed attendant hands you a pair of flippers. Noticing your reticence, he gives a subtle nod as if to say: "come on then, jump in". isn’t surprising that this [necrophagous] habit in armadillos has led to various concerns and superstitions: the idea that armadillos might excavate graves and consume the recently deceased is present in several areas, most famously in the Paraguayan Chaco. There are also all kinds of rumours about armadillos being especially abundant, or especially plump and healthy, in or near cemeteries.

An odd tidbit lifted from this longer piece from Tetrapod Zoology on predatory armadillos.

Sunday, September 06, 2020

 Przewalski' horse cloned.

Now a portion of this lost genetic diversity may be recovered by cloning historic Przewalski’s horse from frozen cells. Successful breeding can increase genetic diversity by reintroducing lost variants to the surviving population. This is the hope for the new foal, Kurt, who was cloned from cells that had been cryopreserved at the SDZG Frozen Zoo in 1980. These were cells from a stallion that was born in 1975 in the UK, was transferred to the US in 1978, and lived until 1998. He was recorded as Stud Book number 615 (SB615) and known as “Kuporovic” by his zookeepers.