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Nick Matzke’s research critiqued in Journal of BioGeography

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Cover image for Vol. 45 Issue 2 Readers may remember Nick Matzke, especially for getting a publisher to abandon the Cornell University papers and for other contributions to Darwinism.

A reader now writes to tell us that two Field Museum researchers have just published a critique of Nick Matzke’s (probable) most important contribution to research so far.

“Conceptual and statistical problems with the DEC+J model of founder-event speciation and its comparison with DEC via model selection” by Richard H. Ree, Isabel Sanmartín, Journal of Biogeography. 2018

Abstract: Phylogenetic studies of geographic range evolution are increasingly using statistical model selection methods to choose among variants of the dispersal-extinction-cladogenesis (DEC) model, especially between DEC and DEC+J, a variant that emphasizes “jump dispersal,” or founder-event speciation, as a type of cladogenetic range inheritance scenario. Unfortunately, DEC+J is a poor model of founder-event speciation, and statistical comparisons of its likelihood with DEC are inappropriate. DEC and DEC+J share a conceptual flaw: cladogenetic events of range inheritance at ancestral nodes, unlike anagenetic events of dispersal and local extinction along branches, are not modelled as being probabilistic with respect to time. Ignoring this probability factor artificially inflates the contribution of cladogenetic events to the likelihood, and leads to underestimates of anagenetic, time-dependent range evolution. The flaw is exacerbated in DEC+J because not only is jump dispersal allowed, expanding the set of cladogenetic events, its probability relative to non-jump events is assigned a free parameter, j, that when maximized precludes the possibility of non-jump events at ancestral nodes. DEC+J thus parameterizes the mode of speciation, but like DEC, it does not parameterize the rate of speciation. This inconsistency has undesirable consequences, such as a greater tendency towards degenerate inferences in which the data are explained entirely by cladogenetic events (at which point branch lengths become irrelevant, with estimated anagenetic rates of 0). Inferences with DEC+J can in some cases depart dramatically from intuition, e.g. when highly unparsimonious numbers of jump dispersal events are required solely because j is maximized. Statistical comparison with DEC is inappropriate because a higher DEC+J likelihood does not reflect a more close approximation of the “true” model of range evolution, which surely must include time-dependent processes; instead, it is simply due to more weight being allocated (via j) to jump dispersal events whose time-dependent probabilities are ignored. In testing hypotheses about the geographic mode of speciation, jump dispersal can and should instead be modelled using existing frameworks for state-dependent lineage diversification in continuous time, taking appropriate cautions against Type I errors associated with such methods. For simple inference of ancestral ranges on a fixed phylogeny, a DEC-based model may be defensible if statistical model selection is not used to justify the choice, and it is understood that inferences about cladogenetic range inheritance lack any relation to time, normally a fundamental axis of evolutionary models. More. (paywall)

Just think: Matzke gets a chance to be dissed under the normal rules he would deny to others.

But things may be changing on him. Recently, it seemed okay for Basener and Sanford to just publish a critique of Fisher’s Darwinian Theorem as well. Is “the Darwinian government” (apparently, the late Jerry Fodor’s words) losing its power? Black hole size void?

See also: Nick Matzke – Book Burner? (Barry Arrington)

and

Has Fisher’s proof of Darwinian evolution been flipped?

5 Replies to “Nick Matzke’s research critiqued in Journal of BioGeography

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    Besides being a champion of censorship of ID literature, I remember Matzke for his ‘literature bluffing’ stunts during the Dover trial and subsequent ‘literature bluffing’ with Meyer’s book ‘Darwin’s Doubt’ :

    A short history of Matzke’s literature bluffing –
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-589458

    And lets not forget the embarrassing ‘literature bluff’ that Matzke tried to pull on Dr. James Tour who happens to be a world leading expert on synthetic chemistry:

    “One graduate student from Berkeley, (i.e. Matzke), said that he would come if he had a ticket so somebody said “I’ll buy you the ticket”, but then he said, “Well, I’m not going to go because Tour doesn’t want it recorded.” The reason I didn’t want it recorded is because I did not want one-ups-man-ship.
    I said ‘I’ll buy you lunch, just explain it to me’.
    And then the guy said he would send me some articles on evolution of a complex system from a molecular perspective and I am still waiting. That’s over one year ago he was suppose to send them to me. They don’t exist.”
    – James Tour – 35:22 minute mark of the video
    https://youtu.be/CB3ZmLatcUI?t=2122

    As far as integrity in science is concerned, Matzke is a genuine sleazeball.,, Other than that, I’m sure he is a nice guy.

  2. 2
    mike1962 says:

    Nick who?

  3. 3
    gpuccio says:

    “Degenerate inferences” !!!

    I like the concept… 🙂

  4. 4
    jdk says:

    I believe this is the way science is supposed to work: you publish, which adds your ideas to the arena for critical analysis by others. Not sure what the point is, other than an excuse to slam Nick for other things you guys don’t like about him.

  5. 5
    anthropic says:

    jdk 4

    You mean censorship and bad faith might cause people to dislike you? Who knew!

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