Tag Archives: estimation

The efficiency of the lazy scientist

Photo: Lazy red panda CC 0 via pxhere.com

I’ve just published a paper that had some trouble getting through peer review.  Nothing terribly unusual about that, of course, and the paper is better for its birthing pains.  But one reviewer comment (made independently, actually, by several different reviewers) really bugged me.  It revealed some fuzzy thinking that’s all too common amongst ecologists, having to do with the value of quick-and-dirty methods.  Quick-and-dirty methods deserve more respect.  I’ll explain using my particular paper as an example, first, and then provide a general analysis. Continue reading

Populations sign for Gross, Nebraska (population 3)

Small-town mayors,functional traits, and the estimation of extremes

Warning: gets a bit wonkish near the end.

Have you ever noticed that the mayor of a small town is fairly often a bonehead?  There’s a simple reason we’d expect that to be true – and that simple reason has implications for academic searches, the traits we analyze in ecology and systematics, and lots of other things, too (please add to my list in the Replies).  The simple reason is this:  it’s really hard to estimate extremes.  It’s also really hard to understand why so many people act as if they’re unaware of this.

Let’s start with those mayors.  Continue reading