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