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The norm of entertainment

Someone pointed me to a comment that a psychology researcher wrote that he almost never reads our blog and that it “too quickly bores me.” That’s ok. I’m sure that lots of people have stumbled upon our blog, one way or another, and have been bored by it. We don’t have a niche audience, exactly; […]

Tessa Hadley on John Updike

Lots to think about here. To start with, this is the first New Yorker fiction podcast I’ve heard where they actually criticize the author instead of just celebrating him and saying how perfect the story is. This time, they went right at it, with the interviewer, Deborah Treisman, passing along some criticisms of Updike and […]

My reply: Three words. Fake. Data. Simulation.

Kash Ramli writes: I am planning on running an experiment to determine whether an adaptive treatment approach to behaviour change interventions could be effective at reducing the heterogenous treatment effects currently observed in the field. The context of the experiment is providing households with social norms based feedback of their consumption (i.e. comparing your consumption […]

Hey! Here’s a cool new book of stories about the collection of social data

I took a look at a new book, “Research exposed: How empirical social science gets done in the digital age,” edited by Eszter Hargittai and with chapters written by 17 authors, most of whom teach communication at various universities around the world. I don’t know anything about communication as an academic field, so I can’t […]

New textbook, “Statistics for Health Data Science,” by Etzioni, Mandel, and Gulati

Ruth Etzioni, Micha Mandel, Roman Gulati wrote a new book that I really like. Here are the chapters: 1 Statistics and Health Data 1.1 Introduction 1.2 Statistics and Organic Statistics 1.3 Statistical Methods and Models 1.4 Health Care Data 1.5 Outline of the Text 1.6 Software and Data 2 Key Statistical Concepts 2.1 Samples and […]

What about that new paper estimating the effects of lockdowns etc?

A couple people pointed me to this article, “Assessing Mandatory Stay‐at‐Home and Business Closure Effects on the Spread of COVID‐19,” which reports: The most restrictive non‐pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) for controlling the spread of COVID‐19 are mandatory stay‐at‐home and business closures. . . . We evaluate the effects on epidemic case growth of more restrictive NPIs […]

Sharon Begley

Science journalism has changed a lot in the past thirty years. In the old days, the top science writers (with the exception of Martin Gardner, I guess), were explainers whose job was to report the breakthroughs or purported breakthroughs by purportedly brilliant scientists. There’s still room for this sort of science writing—for example, we want […]

Thanks, commenters!

The person who sent me this question (“You’re a data scientist at a local hospital and you’ve been asked to present to the physicians on communicating statistical information to patients. What should you say?”) the other day read the comment thread and responded: Thank you so much for putting the question to your readership. Their […]

Simulation-based calibration: Two theorems

Throat-clearing OK, not theorems. Conjectures. Actually not even conjectures, because for a conjecture you have to, y’know, conjecture something. Something precise. And I got nothing precise for you. Or, to be more precise, what is precise in this post is not new, and what is new is not precise. Background OK, first for the precise […]

Weights in statistics

Thomas Lumley writes: There are roughly three and half distinct uses of the term weights in statistical methodology, and it’s a problem for software documentation and software development. Here, I [Lumley] want to distinguish the different uses and clarify when the differences are a problem. I also want to talk about the settings where we […]

You’re a data scientist at a local hospital and you’ve been asked to present to the physicians on communicating statistical information to patients. What should you say?

Someone who wishes to remain anonymous writes: I just read your post reflecting on crappy talks . . . I’m reaching out because I’m a data scientist at a local hospital in the US and I’ve been asked to present to our physicians about communicating statistical information to patients (e.g., how to interpret the results […]

Reflections on a talk gone wrong

The first talk I ever gave was at a conference in 1988. (This isn’t the one that went wrong.) I spoke on Constrained maximum entropy methods in an image reconstruction problem. The conference was in England, and I learned about it from a wall poster. They had travel funding for students. I sent in my […]

Sketching the distribution of data vs. sketching the imagined distribution of data

Elliot Marsden writes: I was reading the recently published UK review of food and eating habits. The above figure caught my eye as it looked like the distribution of weight had radically changed, beyond just its mean shifting, over past decades. This would really change my beliefs! But in fact the distributional data wasn’t available […]

Routine hospital-based SARS-CoV-2 testing outperforms state-based data in predicting clinical burden.

Len Covello, Yajuan Si, Siquan Wang, and I write: Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, government policy and healthcare implementation responses have been guided by reported positivity rates and counts of positive cases in the community. The selection bias of these data calls into question their validity as measures of the actual viral incidence in the community […]

“They adjusted for three hundred confounders.”

Alexey Guzey points to this post by Scott Alexander and this research article by Elisabetta Patorno, Robert Glynn, Raisa Levin, Moa Lee, and Krista Huybrechts, and writes: I [Guzey] am extremely skeptical of anything that relies on adjusting for confounders and have no idea what to think about this. My intuition would be that because […]

“A Headline That Will Make Global-Warming Activists Apoplectic” . . . how’s that one going, Freakonomics team?

I saw this article in the newspaper today, “2020 Ties 2016 as Hottest Yet, European Analysis Shows,” and accompanied by the above graph, and this reminded me of something. A few years ago there was a cottage industry among some contrarian journalists, making use of the fact that 1998 was a particularly hot year (by […]

Include all design information as predictors in your regression model, then postratify if necessary. No need to include survey weights: the information that goes into the weights will be used in any poststratification that is done.

David Kaplan writes: I have a question that comes up often when working with people who are analyzing large scale educational assessments such as NAEP or PISA. They want to do some kind of multilevel analysis of an achievement outcome such as mathematics ability predicted by individual and school level variables. The files contain the […]

“Enhancing Academic Freedom and Transparency in Publishing Through Post-Publication Debate”: Some examples in the study of political conflict

Mike Spagat writes: You’ll definitely want to see this interesting paper by Kristian Gleditsch. Research and Politics, a journal for which Kristian Gleditsch is one of the editors, has hosted several valuable rounds of post-publication peer review. One instance starts with a paper of mine and Stijn van Weezel which replicated, critiqued and improved earlier […]

Weakliem on air rage and himmicanes

Weakliem writes: I think I see where the [air rage] analysis went wrong. The dependent variable was whether or not an “air rage” incident happened on the flight. Two important influences on the chance of an incident are the number of passengers and how long the flight was (their data apparently don’t include the number […]

xkcd: “Curve-fitting methods and the messages they send”

We can’t go around linking to xkcd all the time or it would just fill up the blog, but this one is absolutely brilliant. You could use it as the basis for a statistics Ph.D. I came across it in this post from Palko, which is on the topic of that Dow 36,000 guy who […]

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