Advance warning – there is not much science or entomology in this one, although it could be a welcome respite from Covid-19 😊
I am assured that they are gazing at their navels
A couple of days ago I was scrolling through my ‘Blogs to write’ file, clicking on titles that caught my fancy, when I came across this one that I thought looked interesting – Meaningful numbers, with a file date of almost exactly 4 years ago.
What surprises lurk inside this file?
I wondered what I was thinking about at the time so opened the file. Imagine my disappointment when this was revealed 😊
Nothing but the title, not even a picture to help jog my memory!
So, I was none the wiser. I knew it wasn’t about one of my pet bugbears; journals that use numbered references, because that has its own file, in fact two files, because I seem to have started writing it twice 😊 I guess an indication of how much the practice irritates me. As a referee it makes it so much more difficult to check if the authors have cited the relevant literature. 😦
I hate this so much! It goes against my sense of order, literally speaking of course 😊
It wasn’t about how many times the word insect featured as a worldwide search term in Google Trends, although looking at the graph it is striking that the peak is in June/July, the Northern Hemisphere summer.
Worldwide Google Trends for the search term ‘insect’
Staying with insects, (OK there is some tangential entomology in this piece), could I have been meaning to write something about how many insects species there are, given that the estimates range from Terry Erwin’s gloriously possibly over the top estimate of 30 000 000 (Erwin, 1983) to Ian Hodkinson’s 2-3 000 000, that I consider to be very conservative indeed, with Camilo Mora and colleagues oddly calculated 9 000 000 in between. Or, could it refer to my ten-year data aphid data sets from Scotland, still waiting to be transferred transfer from these battered notebooks to an Excel spreadsheet?
Aphid data, not meaningful until it makes it to a spreadsheet?
Certainly, they contain a lot of numbers but are they meaningful? They haven’t even made it into my Data I am never going to publish series 😊
In desperation I Googled the phrase ‘meaningful numbers’ and ended up, via this piece by Donald Byrd,
on the Wikipedia page about significant figures, which, although the habit that many undergraduates have of reporting their statistical output to the millionth decimal place, is one of my other pet bugbears, was probably not what I had intended to write about, or was it?
I guess we’ll never know what the original title was all about, but on the plus side, I now have a few more ideas to turn into blogs 😊
Erwin, T.L. (1983) Tropical forest canopies: the last biotic frontier. Bulletin of the Entomological Society of America, 29, 14-19.
Hodkinson, I.D. & Casson, D. (1991) A lesser predilection for bugs: Hemiptera (Insecta) diversity in tropical rain forests. Biological Journal of the Linnaean Society, 43, 101-109.
Mora, C., Tittensor, D.P., Adl, S., Simpson, A.G.B., & Worm, B. (2011) How many species are there on earth and in the ocean? PloS Biology, 9(8):, e1001127.doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001127.