When Ezra Pound was planning to write the primer which eventually became The ABC of Reading he intended to give no more than a collection of key readings without any further comment. Pound thought that his readers would get the drift of what good literature was about, and that explanation was superfluous. In that spirit, why not read Emil Kirkegaard’s publication just out out today:
UNFINISHED ANALYSIS. POSTED HERE TO ESTABLISH PRIORITY. MORE TO FOLLOW! Updated 2015-09-04
Famously, Ezra Pound resiled from his minimalist position, and consented to make a comment or two about the exhibited texts, thus writing a classic of literary tutelage.
What I like about Emil’s paper is that despite being a very bright young guy he goes through data sets in the ancient and systematic way that AE Maxwell always championed: he looks at the data in detail, and gets to know what is there: the good, the bad, and the ugly. If, as in any real data set, there are lapses, quirks, anomalies and blank spaces it is well to know about them in advance, not jump to the towering castles of fancy statistics before surveying the whole terrain, and seeking secure foundations. I can follow his thought processes, even though I am not running as fast as he is.
Emil gives an erudite introduction, and draws out the relationships between the variables. He then deals with missing variables; the problems of adjusting for sex differences in brain size; the benefits of adding in cubed age to deal with residuals; the problem of there being no size measures for the children with which brain/body comparisons could be computed (Encephalization Quotient); the reasons for factor analyzing the many brain surface measures; lists the known association between brain measures and cognitive ability; notes that 11 regions were studied in the left hemisphere versus 8 in the right (which might unbalance the analysis of results); finds that brain size appears to increase till age 10 and then falls (?); then slogs through many factor solutions; showing that 4 factors offer by far the best, congruent solution; looks at the results for the Flanker distraction task (I would not have given this measure priority, because it is of less significance than mainstream intelligence), and that some children simply don’t understand it; looks at the working memory test; shows the memory test is more correlated with brain size; then looks at the core measures of education and income and finds slightly higher correlations for boys than girls; works through the racial admixture data; finds difference between different scanners…….. and then it is night in Denmark, and also night in England.
More is on its way, but this an argosy of treasures. I await his next findings.
Before I leave you, I would normally have said: “This paper should be published in Nature”, but we can’t really say now, can we?
I hope you will be impressed, as I am, by the company I keep.