I have to correct Fred on this:
we accelerated our writing. My paper was the first to be finished,
probably because it is a single-authored item by an emeritus with no
No, WE did not accelerate the writing. We started a cooperation, after
my small finding, and we were supposed to work all together on this. At
some stage, we heard no more from Fred and I suggested to have two
companion papers, but NEVER got an answer from Fred.
Months later, Fred let us know he was presenting and discussing results
(without ever asking me if I was OK with this). Finally, HE decided to
go on on his own, submit and announce in this list (again letting me
know after he was done). This is an accurate reconstruction of the
events. The other one is not and Fred was not unaware that I wasn't OK:
before the preprint he just announced, he (again without ever asking)
had already done an informal presubmission to a journal and the journal
has my written complaint about it.
I let the morphometric community judge if this is the appropriate
behaviour. Certainly it is not what I teach students, but possibly it is
what a famous retired emeritus and one of the leader of a scientific
community can do.
All the best
On a technical side, as I never thought that CVA was the source of all
evil and BG-PCA a simple solution, here too I agree that the method has
some problems but I am more than confident that it can still be WISELY
applied in many cases. That small N (especially when one works with
small differences) and large p (numbers of variables) are not desirable
in very many types of analyses is written in all introductory textbook
on multivariate stats (at least those written in simple non-mathematical
language for non-numerically skilled people like me).
In relation to this, there's a point I raised many times for years in
this list and in some of my papers: one uses the specific landmarks
required for her/his specific aim (I am in debt to Paul O'Higgins for
teaching me this). Semilandmarks are a great tool but should be used
when really needed and bearing in mind that almost inevitably p will
become big and that might create problems. There are different views on
this, including that having many points makes beautiful pictures: I
agree but probably most of the time that is not the aim of a biologist.
However, there might be cases when even with small N semilandmarks might
be a huge step forward and possibly the best example I know it's the
virtual reconstruction of fossils (further analysis of those data may
then be harder, because of very big p and small N).
I definitely share the frustration of many taxonomists and
palaeontologists who have often very precious material and very small
samples and want to get the most out of them. Regardless of p/N
problems, estimates of means will be then inevitably inaccurate (and
sometimes even biased, as the sample could be few and maybe related
individuals of a rare species). Sometimes those means could be OKish
(macroevolutionary analyses with very large differences?); most of the
time they will be as accurate as trying to estimate the average body
height of Italian men using a sample of 10 men from the same small
region of Italy. Again, not my discovery: it's all in the introductory
stats textbook, but I myself too often forget about it.
Dr. Andrea Cardini
Researcher, Dipartimento di Scienze Chimiche e Geologiche, Università di
Modena e Reggio Emilia, Via Campi, 103 - 41125 Modena - Italy
tel. 0039 059 2058472
Adjunct Associate Professor, Centre for Forensic Anthropology, The
University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley WA 6009,
E-mail address: alcard...@gmail.com, andrea.card...@unimore.it
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