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Like all science, studying primates is about asking the right questions in the right way. Most studies of primates fall within the life sciences, so I focus on the scientific method in this book. This chapter introduces how science works, then what it takes to be a primatologist. I outline the contents of the rest of the book and highlight the importance of keeping science healthy. I end by emphasising the need to respect other people and to promote inclusive science.
The adage “All politics is local” in the United States is largely true. Of the United States’ 90,106 governments, 99.9% are local governments. Despite variations in institutional features, descriptive representation, and policy-making power, political scientists have been slow to take advantage of these variations. One obstacle is that comprehensive data on local politics is often extremely difficult to obtain; as a result, data is unavailable or costly, hard to replicate, and rarely updated. We provide an alternative: crowdsourcing this data. We demonstrate and validate crowdsourcing data on local politics using two different data collection projects. We evaluate different measures of consensus across coders and validate the crowd’s work against elite and professional datasets. In doing so, we show that crowdsourced data is both highly accurate and easy to use. In doing so, we demonstrate that nonexperts can be used to collect, validate, or update local data.
In their widely cited article, Swain et al. (2008) report data that, purportedly, demonstrates instability of folk epistemic intuitions regarding the famous Truetemp case authored by Keith Lehrer. What they found is a typical example of priming, where presenting one stimulus before presenting another stimulus affects the way the latter is perceived or evaluated. In their experiment, laypersons were less likely to attribute knowledge in the Truetemp case when they first read a scenario describing a clear case of knowledge, and more likely to ascribe knowledge when they first read a vignette describing a clear case of nonknowledge. We tried to replicate Swain et al. findings in three experiments: one devised in Polish, and the other two conducted in English. We found no priming effect for knowledge ratings regarding the Truetemp case – laypersons were similarly likely to attribute knowledge in all three investigated conditions (primed with a clear case of knowledge, primed with a clear case of nonknowledge, and not primed). These three failed replication attempts are not decisive as to whether the priming effect in question occurs, nevertheless, the collected data puts Swain et al. conclusions about instability of epistemic intuitions in jeopardy.
This article discusses the contingencies and complexities of CRISPR. It outlines key problems regarding off-target effects and replication of experimental work that are important to consider in light of CRISPR’s touted ease of use and diffusion. In light of literature on the sociotechnical dimensions of the life sciences and biotechnology and literature on former bioweapons programs, this article argues that we need more detailed empirical case studies of the social and technical factors shaping CRISPR and related gene-editing techniques in order to better understand how they may be different from other advances in biotechnology — or whether similar features remain. This information will be critical to better inform intelligence practitioners and policymakers about the security implications of new gene-editing techniques.
In recent decades, parasite community ecology has produced hundreds of studies on an ever-growing number of host species, and developed into an active sub-discipline of parasitology. However, this growth has been characterized by a lack of standards in the practices used by researchers, with many common approaches being flawed, unjustified or misleading. Here, in the hope of promoting advances in the study of parasite community ecology, I identify some of the most common errors or weaknesses in past studies, and propose ten simple rules for best practice in the field. They cover issues including, among others, taxonomic resolution, proper and justifiable analytical methods, higher-level replication, controlling for sampling effort or species richness, accounting for spatial distances, using experimental approaches, and placing raw data in the public domain. While knowledge of parasite communities has expanded in breadth, with more and more host species being studied, true progress has been very limited with respect to our understanding of fundamental general processes shaping these communities. It is hoped that the guidelines presented here can direct researchers away from the entrenched use of certain approaches flawed in design, analysis or interpretation, by offering a more rigorous and standardized set of practices, and, hopefully, a way forward.
In Reasons and Persons, Derek Parfit takes issue with Bernard Williams’ view of the relation between love and identity. Williams thought that, in a world where there were several co-existing replicas of one’s beloved, our current conception of love would begin to crumble. Parfit agrees with Williams in the branching case of replication, but thought that, where replication takes a non-branching form, our ordinary view of love would remain intact. I believe Parfit arrives at this conclusion because he has not fully appreciated the degree to which Williams’ claim is primarily about a view of love rather than one of identity.
Do events irrelevant to politics, such as the weather and sporting events, affect political opinions? A growing experimental literature suggests that such events can matter. However, extant experimental evidence may over-state irrelevant event effects; this could occur if these studies happen to focus on particular scenarios where irrelevant event effects are likely to occur. One way to address this possibility is through replication, which is what we do. Specifically, we replicate an experimental study that showed the outcome of a college football game can influence presidential approval. Our results partially replicate the previous study and suggest the impact is constrained to a limited set of outcome variables. The findings accentuate the need for scholars to identify the conditions under which irrelevant effects occur. While the effects clearly can occur, there relevance to politics remains unclear.
Many philosophers of science and methodologists have argued that the ability to repeat studies and obtain similar results is an essential component of science. A finding is elevated from single observation to scientific evidence when the procedures that were used to obtain it can be reproduced and the finding itself can be replicated. Recent replication attempts show that some high profile results – most notably in psychology, but in many other disciplines as well – cannot be replicated consistently. These replication attempts have generated a considerable amount of controversy, and the issue of whether direct replications have value has, in particular, proven to be contentious. However, much of this discussion has occurred in published commentaries and social media outlets, resulting in a fragmented discourse. To address the need for an integrative summary, we review various types of replication studies and then discuss the most commonly voiced concerns about direct replication. We provide detailed responses to these concerns and consider different statistical ways to evaluate replications. We conclude there are no theoretical or statistical obstacles to making direct replication a routine aspect of psychological science.
Objectives: Cognitive dysfunction is a core symptom dimension that cuts across the psychoses. Recent findings support classification of patients along the cognitive dimension using cluster analysis; however, data-derived groupings may be highly determined by sampling characteristics and the measures used to derive the clusters, and so their interpretability must be established. We examined cognitive clusters in a cross-diagnostic sample of patients with psychosis and associations with clinical and functional outcomes. We then compared our findings to a previous report of cognitive clusters in a separate sample using a different cognitive battery. Methods: Participants with affective or non-affective psychosis (n=120) and healthy controls (n=31) were administered the MATRICS Consensus Cognitive Battery, and clinical and community functioning assessments. Cluster analyses were performed on cognitive variables, and clusters were compared on demographic, cognitive, and clinical measures. Results were compared to findings from our previous report. Results: A four-cluster solution provided a good fit to the data; profiles included a neuropsychologically normal cluster, a globally impaired cluster, and two clusters of mixed profiles. Cognitive burden was associated with symptom severity and poorer community functioning. The patterns of cognitive performance by cluster were highly consistent with our previous findings. Conclusions: We found evidence of four cognitive subgroups of patients with psychosis, with cognitive profiles that map closely to those produced in our previous work. Clusters were associated with clinical and community variables and a measure of premorbid functioning, suggesting that they reflect meaningful groupings: replicable, and related to clinical presentation and functional outcomes. (JINS, 2018, 24, 382–390)
Currently, many scientific fields such as psychology or biomedicine face a methodological crisis concerning the reproducibility, replicability, and validity of their research. In neuroimaging, similar methodological concerns have taken hold of the field, and researchers are working frantically toward finding solutions for the methodological problems specific to neuroimaging. This article examines some ethical and legal implications of this methodological crisis in neuroimaging. With respect to ethical challenges, the article discusses the impact of flawed methods in neuroimaging research in cognitive and clinical neuroscience, particularly with respect to faulty brain-based models of human cognition, behavior, and personality. Specifically examined is whether such faulty models, when they are applied to neurological or psychiatric diseases, could put patients at risk, and whether this places special obligations on researchers using neuroimaging. In the legal domain, the actual use of neuroimaging as evidence in United States courtrooms is surveyed, followed by an examination of ways that the methodological problems may create challenges for the criminal justice system. Finally, the article reviews and promotes some promising ideas and initiatives from within the neuroimaging community for addressing the methodological problems.
When the returns to scale of a production process vary with the intensity it is operated at, an AK model with constant returns to scale in production arises endogenously due to replication driven by profit maximization. If replication occurs at the efficiency-maximizing scale, as with perfect competition, the result applies also when the number of production processes must be discrete, thus, overcoming the so-called integer problem. When competition is imperfect, there is only convergence toward the AK model for large enough input use, so an economy is more prone to stalling in a steady state without growth, the smaller and less competitive it is.
Endometriosis is a complex disease that affects 6–10% of women in their reproductive years and 20–50% of women with infertility. Genome-wide and candidate-gene association studies for endometriosis have identified 10 independent risk loci, and of these, nine (rs7521902, rs13394619, rs4141819, rs6542095, rs1519761, rs7739264, rs12700667, rs1537377, and rs10859871) are polymorphic in European populations. Here we investigate the replication of nine SNP loci in 998 laparoscopically and histologically confirmed endometriosis cases and 783 disease-free controls from Belgium. SNPs rs7521902, rs13394619, and rs6542095 show nominally significant (p < .05) associations with endometriosis, while the directions of effect for seven SNPs are consistent with the original reports. Association of rs6542095 at the IL1A locus with ‘All’ (p = .066) and ‘Grade_B’ (p = .01) endometriosis is noteworthy because this is the first successful replication in an independent population. Meta-analysis with the published results yields genome-wide significant evidence for rs7521902, rs13394619, rs6542095, rs12700667, rs7739264, and rs1537377. Notably, three coding variants in GREB1 (near rs13394619) and CDKN2B-AS1 (near rs1537377) also showed nominally significant associations with endometriosis. Overall, this study provides important replication in a uniquely characterized independent population, and indicates that the majority of the original genome-wide association findings are not due to chance alone.
In the early 1990s, a set of new techniques for manipulating mouse DNA allowed researchers to ‘knock out’ specific genes and observe the effects of removing them on a live mouse. In animal behaviour genetics, questions about how to deploy these techniques to study the molecular basis of behaviour became quite controversial, with a number of key methodological issues dissecting the interdisciplinary research field along disciplinary lines. This paper examines debates that took place during the 1990s between a predominately North American group of molecular biologists and animal behaviourists around how to design, conduct, and interpret behavioural knockout experiments. Drawing from and extending Harry Collins’s work on how research communities negotiate what counts as a ‘well-done experiment,’ I argue that the positions practitioners took on questions of experimental skill reflected not only the experimental traditions they were trained in but also their differing ontological and epistemological commitments. Different assumptions about the nature of gene action, eg., were tied to different positions in the knockout mouse debates on how to implement experimental controls. I conclude by showing that examining representations of skill in the context of a community’s knowledge commitments sheds light on some of the contradictory ways in which contemporary animal behaviour geneticists talk about their own laboratory work as a highly skilled endeavour that also could be mechanised, as easy to perform and yet difficult to perform well.
The Standards Committee of the Experimental Research Section of the American Political Science Association has produced reporting guidelines that aim to increase the clarity of experimental research reports. This paper describes the Committee's rationale for the guidelines it developed and includes our Recommended Reporting Standards for Experiments (Laboratory, Field, Survey). It begins with a content analysis of current reporting practices in published experimental research. Although researchers report most important aspects of their experimental designs and data, we find substantial omissions that could undermine the clarity of research practices and the ability of researchers to assess the validity of study conclusions. With the need for reporting guidelines established, the report describes the process the Committee used to develop the guidelines, the feedback received during the comment period, and the rationale for the final version of the guidelines.
Toxoplasma gondii is an apicomplexan intracellular protozoan parasite responsible for toxoplasmosis, a disease with considerable medical and economic impact worldwide. Toxoplasma gondii cells never lose the nuclear envelope and their chromosomes do not condense. Here, we tested the murine monoclonal antibody PL2-6, which labels epichromatin (a conformational chromatin epitope based on histones H2A and H2B complexed with DNA), in T. gondii cultured in human fibroblasts. This epitope is present at the exterior chromatin surface of interphase nuclei and on the periphery of mitotic chromosomes in higher eukaryotes. PL2-6 reacted with T. gondii H2A and H2B histones in Western blot (WB) assays. In addition, the antibody reacted with the nuclear fraction of tachyzoites, as a single band coincident with H2B histone. In the T. gondii tachyzoite stage, PL2-6 also had peripheral nuclear localization, as observed by epifluorescence/confocal microscopy and immunoelectron microscopy. Confocal analysis showed that epichromatin is slightly polarized to one face of the parasite exterior chromatin surface. In replicating tachyzoites, PL2-6 also labels the exterior chromatin surface, covering the face of both segregating nuclei, facing the plasma membrane of the mother cell. The possible role of epichromatin in T. gondii is discussed.
The focus of this paper is the identification, and more importantly, sustainable management, of risks embedded in guarantees attaching to unit linked savings and retirement contracts (as commonly referred to as GMxBs). In developing customer centric guarantees that are not readily transferrable to the capital markets, insurance undertakings require the skills and resources to hedge the guarantees within their own balance sheet (or with a temporary use of packaged solutions such as reinsurance). In taking on the guarantee manufacture task insurers are departing from areas of historic competence and need to develop a comprehensive understanding of all elements of market risk replication. These include both first order market exposures as well as the material second order risks associated with market micro structure. The paper seeks to integrate this comprehensive analysis within a practitioner focused framework and concludes with a senior executive summary of “Seven key considerations in successful guarantee manufacture”.
Human height and body mass index are influenced by a large number of genes, each with small effects, along with environment. To identify common genetic variants associated with these traits, we performed genome-wide association studies in 11,536 individuals composed of Australian twins, family members, and unrelated individuals at ∼550,000 genotyped SNPs. We identified a single genome-wide significant variant for height (P value = 1.06 × 10–9) located in HHIP, a well-replicated height-associated gene. Suggestive levels of association were found for other known genes associated with height (P values < 1 × 10–6): ADAMTSL3, EFEMP1, GPR126, and HMGA2; and BMI (P values < 1 × 10–4): FTO and MC4R. Together, these variants explain less than 2% of total phenotypic variation for height and 0.5% for BMI.