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The Death of LOL

Via The Awl: ‘“A new report from Facebook into how users express laughter shows that ‘haha’ and its variants are by far the most common terms used on the social network. They accounted for 51.4 percent of mirth in the anonymized comments and posts looked at by Facebook’s data team, with laughter emoji claiming 33.7 percent, and ‘hehe’ and its cognates 13.1 percent. The once-mighty ‘lol’ only appeared in 1.9 percent of the text sampled by Facebook — a pretty staggering fall for an expression that was once synonymous with online txt speak. Although not surprising for such a venerable term, ‘lol’ proved slightly more popular with older users. Differences between generations were not heavily pronounced, but it was emoji that were most popular with users with the youngest median age, while ‘haha,’ ‘hehe,’ and ‘lol’ were favored by progressively older individuals.”..’

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Are There Too Many Meta-Analyses?

Via Neuroskeptic: ‘Meta-analyses are systematic syntheses of scientific evidence, most commonly randomized controlled clinical trials. A meta-analysis combines the results of multiple studies and can lead to new insights and more reliable results.

However, according to Italian surgeon Giovanni Tebala writing in Medical Hypotheses, meta-analyses are becoming too popular, and are in danger of taking over the medical literature.

…Why is this? Tebala suggests that researchers are turning to meta-analyses to bolster their CVs:

Randomized controlled trials require hard work and financial commitment, whereas meta-analyses and systematic reviews can be relatively easy to perform and often get published in high impact journals. Many researchers might decide to devote themselves to the latter approach.

…Tebala doesn’t actually spell out why the glut of meta-analyses is a problem for science; he seems to be concerned at the unfairness of meta-analysts getting credit for their work with “someone else’s data”.

Nonetheless I think there is a scientific problem, which is that as the ratio of meta-analyses to actual data increases, the scientific literature becomes dominated by interpretation and analysis resting on a limited amount of evidence. Put simply, the risk is that science will get “top heavy”…’

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The Universe Is Dying; Nice Knowing You

Via IFLScience: ‘We’re all screwed. Well, if you’re planning to stick around for a few more billion years.

Researchers have found that galaxies are losing energy at a rather alarming rate, and confirm that all energy in the universe will eventually dissipate into nothingness. A study of 200,000 galaxies found they had lost half their energy in just two billion years. “The universe is slowly dying,” a statement from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) somberly says.

The theory that the universe is dying through an increase in entropy is not new, but this is the most extensive analysis yet of what’s going on. The energy output of a large portion of space containing the galaxies was measured more precisely than ever before. It was studied in 21 wavelengths, from ultraviolet to the far infrared, and all were found to be decreasing…’