'Data mining' refers to a broad class of activities that have in common, a search over different ways to process or package data statistically or econometrically with the purpose of making the final presentation meet certain design criteria. We characterize three attitudes toward data mining: first, that it is to be avoided and, if it is engaged in, that statistical inferences must be adjusted to account for it; second, that it is inevitable and that the only results of any interest (...) are those that transcend the variety of alternative data mined specifications (a view associated with Leamer's extreme-bounds analysis); and third, that it is essential and that the only hope we have of using econometrics to uncover true economic relationships is to be found in the intelligent mining of data. The first approach confuses considerations of sampling distribution and considerations of epistemic warrant and, reaches an unnecessarily hostile attitude toward data mining. The second approach relies on a notion of robustness that has little relationship to truth: there is no good reason to expect a true specification to be robust alternative specifications. Robustness is not, in general, a carrier of epistemic warrant. The third approach is operationalized in the general-to-specific search methodology of the LSE school of econometrics. Its success demonstrates that intelligent data mining is an important element in empirical investigation in economics. (shrink)
Abstract The influence of age and formal education on the development of moral reasoning in a Spanish sample of students was assessed by using a Spanish translation of Rest's Defining Issues Test (DIT). Our results support the hypothesis that moral development is highly related to both variables in our cultural context, although more so with formal education than with age.
The evolutionary implications of environmental change due to organismic action remain a controversial issue, after a decades—long debate on the subject. Much of this debate has been conducted in qualitative fashion, despite the availability of mathematical models for organism–environment interactions, and for gene frequencies when allele fitness can be related to exploitation of a particular environmental resource. In this article we focus on representative models dealing with niche construction, ecosystem engineering, the Gaia Hypothesis and community interactions of Lotka–Volterra type, and (...) show that their quantitative character helps bring into sharper focus the similarities and differences among their respective theoretical contexts. (shrink)
We briefly present two areas of natural computing, vividly investigated in the recent years: DNA computing and membrane computing. Both of them have the roots in cellular biology and are rather developedat the theoretical level (new concepts, models, paradigms of computer science, with mathematical and epistemological significance have been considered in this framework), but both areas are still looking for implementations of a practical interest.
For years theists have claimed that the constants of physics had to be finely tuned by God to the values that have for life in the universe to be possible. In my column of June, 2009 I showed that many of these claims are based on an improper analysis of the data. Even some of the competent scientists who write on this subject commit the fallacy of holding all the parameters constant and varying just one. When you allow all to (...) vary, you find that changes to one parameter can be easily compensated for by changes to another, leaving the ingredients for life in place. This point is also made nicely in a recent Scientific American cover story by Alejandro Jenkins and Gilad Perez. In this column I will discuss perhaps the most cited example of claimed fine-tuning, the Hoyle resonance. In 1953 the famous astronomer Fred Hoyle calculated that the production of carbon would not occur with sufficient probability unless that probability was boosted by the presence of an excited nuclear state of C12 at a very specific energy. In what appeared to be a remarkable victory for anthropic reasoning, Hoyle proposed that this previously unknown state must exist at about 7.7 MeV. (shrink)
: What is truly beautiful? For Søren Kierkegaard the beautiful is to be found in an integrated self, one that is freely chosen. This article explores Kierkegaard's "aesthetic" stage of existence through the character of Augusto Pérez, the protagonist of Miguel de Unamuno's novel, Niebla. After establishing a solid link between Unamuno and Kierkegaard, Kierkegaard's "ethical" stage is used to critique the "aesthetic" stage on aesthetic grounds, on the basis of the beauty found in life's work, a calling. The conclusion (...) is that the sphere of the "aesthetic" does not achieve Kierkegaard's "aesthetics" of an integrated, fully existing self. (shrink)