Monarchs and Monoculture in southern Michigan

Mark Walker walkerm at
Sat Aug 27 16:05:04 EDT 2005

Well said, Stan.  And much kinder than the response I just launched.

My bad.

Mark Walker.

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-leps-l at [mailto:owner-leps-l at]On
Behalf Of Stan Gorodenski
Sent: Saturday, August 27, 2005 12:04 PM
To: LEPS-L at
Subject: Re: Monarchs and Monoculture in southern Michigan

Neil Jones wrote:

>No I wasn't grasping at straws. I was defeating a poor scientific argument
>through standard scientific means, but you didn't realise that did you? The
>trouble is you just looked at the figures. I looked at what the figures
>and looked at what changing them slightly would do to the results.
>The data didn't support the argument well. What did you expect? I think the
>problem is that you believed it did. Try putting your figures through some
>statistical tests.

To answer your question, the statistical test would probably show _no_
statistically significant difference before and after the treatment.
However, in this situation it would be because of the large error term
resulting from a small sample size that you alluded to. On the other
hand, almost any effect, no matter how small, can be shown to be
statistically significant if the sample is made large enough. The
question then becomes - is the effect significant (not in a statistical
sense)? I, and probably many others, including Ken, undoubtedly saw that
the sample size was too small to come to any definite conclusions on
this issue. However, irrespective of the shortcomings of the data that
Ed (no Paul, if I understand the sequence of messages correctly)
provided, it is good data because it is causing us to ask more questions
and, obviously, to get more data to make more definitive statements at
accepted significance levels. It is obvious that Paul was too
enthusiastic in his response to the data Ed posted, given the small
numbers involved. On the other hand, equally as bad, in my opinion, is
someone coming out strongly on the other side through the technique of
name calling, revealing facts unrelated to the discussion such as
someone being banned from another list or the results of a personality
tests. Recently, I read a book review of the clash between Chandrasekhar
and Eddington. The former ended up being one of the great stellar
theorists of our time. When he came out with a theory that disputed
accepted views at the time, Eddington lambasted Chandra's ideas as being
"stellar buffoonery". The result was that Chandra, being relatively new
from India and apparently very sensitive, got out of white dwarf
research. Years later Eddington apologized, but it is this kind of
behavior, that, in my opinion, retards scientific research and the quest
for the truth.


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