Greg C Mayer on Holloway et al paper: we agree

Posted at WEIT:
Gregory C. Mayer
Posted June 14, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

Having now read this paper, I can only say that the authors’ conclusions are not fully supported by the results presented. Some lacunae are historical: What did Morton think about cranial capacity? What did Morton think about polygenesis? In the latter case, the online supplements provide a smidgen of data (a quote from a letter), but there is nothing about the first. Perhaps Morton said nothing– but then they should say that. And are Gould’s assumptions about Morton’s prejudices supported by evidence about Morton’s prejudices? I don’t know.

As regards the statistical treatment, the authors present almost nothing in their paper, save the listing of seven skulls they consider Morton to have erred in measuring. It is also hard to reconstruct Morton’s method from their account. In box 2, they aver he used “grouped” (presumably meaning unweighted) means, while in the text they state he used “straight” (presumably meaning weighted) means. The tables, figures and statistical analyses that one would expect are lacking. There are some elements of this in the online supplements, but not all of it, nor is it presented in a manner facilitating interpretation (e.g.,they show what looks like raw computer output, rather than conventional tables).

The authors are to be praised for their remeasurement, their consideration of their measurement errors, and for providing the specimen measurements. Almost everything they say may be true, including their main conclusion about Gould’s errors. But, by and large, the paper is an “executive summary” lacking the background, data summary, and analyses that would be expected in a scientific paper, that leaves the reader unsatisfied.

It seems to me that the authors have done a more substantive piece of work that deserves a considerably longer paper than the one before us.”

I said it differently, Friday 10:

“Ok. The points here are: too few skulls, too few “datasets’, two flaky, by todays protocols, methods of measuring accurately,  volumes when arguing about a couple of cubic inches!!.  I think the whole thing is arcane and silly”

I cant believe he is the only one that has concluded the obvious. Whtas wrong with people??

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