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Improbable video: Michael Jacksonization, bomb bay door, bird

March 28th, 2020

Michael Jacksonizationbomb bay door, and bird all appear in Improbable Research Collection #102:

Our series of tiny bits-and-pieces videos peeks at improbable research — research that makes people laugh, then think. Here, below, is a skimpy guide to these little videos. We might make some more.

Engineering Challenge: Design a bicycle for a flea

March 27th, 2020

This month’s Engineering Challenge competition: Design a bicycle for a flea.

Please send your completed design, with test results (include a clear, undoctored video please) to:

Improbable Engineering Challenge: Flea Cycle
℅ Annals of Improbable Research

Improbable video: The net, the flea, the duck and its lover

March 26th, 2020

The net, the flea, the duck and its lover  all appear in Improbable Research Collection #101:

Our series of tiny bits-and-pieces videos peeks at improbable research — research that makes people laugh, then think. Here, below, is a skimpy guide to these little videos. We might make some more.

What Chewed on That?

March 25th, 2020

Taphonomic detectives can easily get caught up in wondering what kind of animal chewed on things that deteriorated and decayed to the point where, when those things were found, the remains of those things deserved to be called “the remains.”

A chapter of the book Forensic Taphonomy and Ecology of North American Scavengers, by Susan N. Sincerbox and Elizabeth A. DiGangi, explores many of the many varieties of the who-chewed-that question.

The chapter has this abstract:

Chapter 5 – What Big Teeth You Have: Taphonomic Signatures of North American Scavengers

There are several taxa from vertebrate species of the North American scavenger guild that are important from a forensic standpoint. This chapter presents a summarized account of their habitats, distribution, behavior, morphology, and taphonomic signatures on bone and soft tissue. Case studies from the literature are used to illustrate or highlight particular behaviors or signatures. Distribution maps and photographs of several taxa are included, as are tables that summarize ecological and morphological characteristics of each species such as habitat, dental formula, animal size, conservation status, and typical taphonomic signatures. The taxa and species discussed include canids (i.e., the family that includes dogs), vultures, deer, corvids (i.e., the family that includes crows), crocodilians, opossums, felids (i.e., the family that includes cats), raccoons, rodents, sharks, pigs, and bears.

Science fallacies in the Jingle Jangle Jungle

March 23rd, 2020

(The Archies : 1968)

If you type the phrase “Jingle Jangle” into your favourite internet search engine, there’s a good chance that the first result will be a link to the video above. Or maybe this book from Axel Scheffler. Less likely in the top-ranking results is a mention of a pair of scientific time-wasters first described over 100 years ago. The Jingle and Jangle Fallacies.

“The jingle and jangle fallacies—by no means limited to personality psychology—waste scientific time. The one suggests agreements that do not exist; the other involves useless redundancies, sometimes because of the absence of historical knowledge, that lead to the “reinvent[ion of constructs under new labels” (Holroyd & Coyne, 1987, p. 367). Together, these errors work to prevent the recognition of correspondences that could help build cumulative knowledge.”

(from Psychol Bull. 1995 Mar;117(2):187-215. A contrarian view of the five-factor approach to personality description. Block J.)

To clarify :

A ‘Jingle Fallacy’ is the erroneous assumption that two quite different things are the same, simply because they have the same name.

A ‘Jangle Fallacy’ is the erroneous assumption that two very similar things are different, simply because they have different names.

BONUSES :
Jingle Jangle Jungle (1968) from Walden Robert Cassotto

Jingle Jangle Jingle (1942) Kay Kyser

Research research by Martin Gardiner

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