Religion at Sacred Ridge?
I follow your magazine with zeal. I was somewhat surprised by “Massacre at Sacred Ridge” (SN: 11/6/10, p. 22), which seems to attribute the slaughter to some action by those who were murdered and does not discuss potential religious overtones of the attack. Is organized religion the culprit in this incident? Man’s inhumanity to man has often been triggered by some form of religious belief system.
Charles Havnen, New Orleans, La.

Religious beliefs of the Ridges Basin groups are poorly understood, though the documented ethnic differences would imply at least some religious differences. How religion may have played into the massacre at Sacred Ridge is unknown. — Bruce Bower

Measured confusion
There is a subtle but fairly egregious error in “Science Stats: Reading between the lines” (SN: 1/1/11, p. 4). The short article is (ironically) about the unclear labeling of medication measuring devices, but the graphic contains a huge infographic gaffe: It shows the values as regular markings up the side of a representation of a 3-D cup. But the cup is not cylindrical, being wider at the top than the bottom (just as many medicinal cups are). This implies that what’s being measured is the volume, not the height.

Since the cup is a right frustum (a chopped-off cone), the volume contained does not scale linearly with height. It may not look like it, but this false implication suggests that each point gained near the top of the scale is worth much more than each point that is gained near the bottom of the scale.

Even putting this aside, the graphic has another problem: The top label (“148 products … with measuring devices”) looks like it represents the white area at the top of the cup, but it doesn’t actually represent that area.
Erik Max Francis, San Jose, Calif.

The reader is correct: While the markings on the graphic were meant to reflect height, not volume, the 3-D drawing of the cup does misleadingly imply volume. And the top label, the total, should have been more clearly linked to the entire pink area that it was supposed to describe. Apologies for adding to the confusion. — Eva Emerson

From the Nature Index

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