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Blog about a column about the Harper’s letter: Here’s some discourse about a discourse about what happens when the discourse takes precedence over reality

I read this op-ed by Tom Scocca and I have some thoughts. To start with, as the above title indicates, the topic is very “meta.” Scocca’s article is a response to an open letter which is a response to criticisms of other people’s negative responses to other people’s criticisms. As a statistician, I can relate […]


Tom Scocca discusses some plagiarism that was done by a former New York Times editor: There was no ambiguity about it; Abramson clearly and obviously committed textbook plagiarism. Her text lifted whole sentences from other sources word for word, or with light revisions, presenting the same facts laid out in the same order as in […]

Journalist seeking scoops is as bad as scientist doing unreplicable research

Tom Scocca shares this dispiriting story: Yesterday, as a news day, was an even worse cascade of lies and confusion and gibberish than usual. Yet what stood out the most was a single word: “Clarification.” It appeared at the bottom of a very short Axios post by reporter Jonathan Swan, introducing a note that read, […]

Some general principles of Bayesian data analysis, arising from a Stan analysis of John Lee Anderson’s height

God is in every leaf of every tree. The leaf in question today is the height of journalist and Twitter aficionado Jon Lee Anderson, a man who got some attention a couple years ago after disparaging some dude for having too high a tweets-to-followers ratio. Anderson called the other guy a “little twerp” which made […]

“Derek Jeter was OK”

Tom Scocca files a bizarrely sane column summarizing the famous shortstop’s accomplishments: Derek Jeter was an OK ballplayer. He was pretty good at playing baseball, overall, and he did it for a pretty long time. . . . You have to be good at baseball to last 20 seasons in the major leagues. . . […]

“I have no idea who Catalina Garcia is, but she makes a decent ruler”: I don’t know if John Lee “little twerp” Anderson actually suffers from tall-person syndrome, but he is indeed tall

I just want to share with you the best comment we’ve every had in the nearly ten-year history of this blog. Also it has statistical content! Here’s the story. After seeing an amusing article by Tom Scocca relating how reporter John Lee Anderson called someone as a “little twerp” on twitter: I conjectured that Anderson […]

How tall is Jon Lee Anderson?

The second best thing about this story (from Tom Scocca) is that Anderson spells “Tweets” with a capital T. But the best thing is that Scocca is numerate—he compares numbers on the logarithmic scale: Reminding Lake that he only had 169 Twitter followers was the saddest gambit of all. Jon Lee Anderson has 17,866 followers. […]

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