Looking over old medical records, something caught my eye: our left-handed child's first tooth was the lower-right central incisor, and our right-handed child's first tooth was the lower-left central incisor.

Two data points don't tell you much, so I expanded the question to those of our grandchildren for whom I had that data. This raised the sample size to nine.

Person

Handedness

First Tooth

1

left

lower right

2

right

lower left

3

right

lower left

4

right

lower right

5

right

lower left

6

right

lower left

7

left

lower right

8

left

lower right

9

right

lower left

As you can see, in every case but #4, there is an inverse correlation between the side of first tooth eruption and handedness.

Nine is still a very small sample size, but it was enough to send me to the internet. Here's what a brief search unearthed.

  • The writers of scientific papers need some serious help in their use of language.
  • Some of them also appear to have a problem with arithmetic.
  • Apparently, the idea of a correlation between first tooth eruption and handedness is indeed a thing, and not just my observation.
  • It is true that there seems to be a statistically significant correlation between first tooth position and handedness.
  • However, the correlation does not match my observations, since the researchers found it to be a direct correlation, rather than inverse.
  • It's possible that our grandson Noah (#4) is the only normal one among us.

Well, that was a bit of fun, but in all seriousness, it's one more nail in the coffin of my faith in the reliability of our scientific publications. This is nothing knew; it began when I worked in a university medical research laboratory. (I have all of one published scientific paper to my name, though several others have my fingerprints on them.) There I observed first-hand the politics and good-ol'-boy networking that goes into getting a paper published. Subsequent years and experience have only made the situation more obvious.

In this case, I have neither the scientific nor the mathematical expertise to critique the science, nor do I want to spend much time trying to understand the papers. But it didn't take more than a few minutes of reading to catch some glaring errors.

Thanks to Automated Idiocy, scammers are getting more proficient. Do you remember when the e-mails informing you that you could gain access to a million-dollar inheritance, if you'd only send a small fee of $50 to someone in Nigeria, were easily distinguishable by their terrible spelling and grammar? Finding this kind of error in a scientific journal makes me want to send it to the spam folder.

Granted, the authors of the papers may not have English as their native language. And the errors in arithmetic may be simple typos. But how were these obvious faults not caught in peer review? And where were the editors? A journal is only as good as the papers it publishes, so it should be in their best interest to vet carefully what they choose to print.

Something doesn't add up here.

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, March 4, 2024 at 11:38 am | Edit
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