Sunday, February 1, 2009

Celebrating the Superbowl

By not watching it and eating a delicious surf and turf dinner instead. That's tonight's plan. Not much news to report. It's been a quiet weekend here at Chez Everett. We had a good visit with friends, including the long lost Deanna, last night, and learned to play Raving Rabbits on the Wii. It is now yet another reason we are not allowed to own one. Otherwise we've done some house chores and I've spent the afternoon baking. You could tell it was Superbowl Sunday in town, because it was dead. There were these harried little pulses of people in the grocery store, but parties started early around here, so the store and the roads were pleasantly empty (and things like steak and stone crab were wickedly on sale).

On a completely different track (and one Kat reported already in her blog) I learned this week that there are Demonic Intrusions in science. Really. The paper this is in has been cited 3200+ times according to google scholar. And it is actually a really good paper, dealing with experimental design in ecological field experiments. But there isn't anything better to get ones attention when "Demonic Intrusions" is in the table of "Potential sources of confusion in an experiment and means for minimizing their effect." So how does one minimize the effect? "Eternal vigilance, exorcism, human sacrifices, etc". I am really not making this up. Look up the paper, it's good, it's available through google scholar. (S.H. Hurlbert, 1984, Ecol. Monogr. 54: 187). The author makes a good point, what he really means by demonic intrusions are factors outside your control, that you may not even be aware of that affect your experiment. He sites an example of a study of fox predation on rodents in a field, but if hawks (the demon in this example) are also feeding in the field, you might interpret the results incorrectly. Still, demonic intrusions. Who knew. I think that's whats happening to my experiment. Definitely.

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