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2 reasons why the CDC and WHO were getting things wrong: (1) It takes so much more evidence to correct a mistaken claim than to establish it in the first place; (2) The implicit goal of much of the public health apparatus is to serve the health care delivery system.

Peter Dorman points to an op-ed by Zeynep Tufekci and writes: This is a high profile piece in the NY Times on why the CDC and WHO have been so resistant to the evidence for aerosol transmission. What makes it relevant is the discussion of two interacting methodological tics, the minimization of Type I error […]

Frank Sinatra (3) vs. Virginia Apgar; Julia Child advances

I happened to come across this one from a couple years ago and the whole thing made me laugh so hard that I thought I’d share again: My favorite comment from yesterday came from Ethan, who picked up on the public TV/radio connection and rated our two candidate speakers on their fundraising abilities. Very appropriate […]

The Javert paradox rears its ugly head

The Javert paradox is, you will recall, the following: Suppose you find a problem with published work. If you just point it out once or twice, the authors of the work are likely to do nothing. But if you really pursue the problem, then you look like a Javert. I labeled the paradox a few […]

Doubting the IHME claims about excess deaths by country

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington (IHME) was recently claiming 900,000 excess deaths, but that doesn’t appear to be consistent with the above data. These graphs are from Ariel Karlinsky, who writes: The main point of the IHME report, that total COVID deaths, estimated by excess deaths, are much […]

Blast from the past

Paul Alper points us to this news article, The Secret Tricks Hidden Inside Restaurant Menus, which is full of fun bits: There is now an entire industry known as “menu engineering”, dedicated to designing menus that convey certain messages to customers, encouraging them to spend more and make them want to come back for a […]

Raymond Smullyan on Ted Cruz, Al Sharpton, and those scary congressmembers

Palko shares this fun logic puzzle from the great Raymond Smullyan which also has obvious implications for modern politics: Inspector Craig of Scotland Yard was called to Transylvania to solve some cases of vampirism. Arriving there, he found the country inhabited both by vampires and humans. Vampires always lie and humans always tell the truth. […]

Any graph should contain the seeds of its own destruction

The title of this post is a line that Jeff Lax liked from our post the other day. It’s been something we’ve been talking about a long time; the earliest reference I can find is here, but it had come up before then, I’m sure. The above histograms illustrate. The upper left plot averages away […]

Postmodernism for zillionaires

“Postmodernism” in academia is the approach of saying nonsense using a bunch of technical-sounding jargon. At least, I think that’s what postmodernism is . . . Hmm, let’s check wikipedia: Postmodernism is a broad movement that developed in the mid- to late 20th century across philosophy, the arts, architecture, and criticism, marking a departure from […]

Indeed, the standard way that statistical hypothesis testing is taught is a 2-way binary grid. Both these dichotomies are inappropriate.

I originally gave this post the title, “New England Journal of Medicine makes the classic error of labeling a non-significant difference as zero,” but was I was writing it I thought of a more general point. First I’ll give the story, then the general point. 1. Story Dale Lehman writes: Here are an article and […]

Whassup with the weird state borders on this vaccine hesitancy map?

Luke Vrotsos writes: I thought you might find this interesting because it relates to questionable statistics getting a lot of media coverage. HHS has a set of county-level vaccine hesitancy estimates that I saw in the NYT this morning in this front-page article. It’s also been covered in the LA Times and lots of local […]

Whatever you’re looking for, it’s somewhere in the Stan documentation and you can just google for it.

Someone writes: Do you have link to an example of Zero-inflated poisson and Zero-inflated negbin model using pure stan (not brms, nor rstanarm)? If yes, please share it with me! I had a feeling there was something in the existing documentation already! So I googled *zero inflated Stan*, and . . . yup, it’s the […]

Responding to Richard Morey on p-values and inference

Jonathan Falk points to this post by Richard Morey, who writes: I [Morey] am convinced that most experienced scientists and statisticians have internalized statistical insights that frequentist statistics attempts to formalize: how you can be fooled by randomness; how what we see can be the result of biasing mechanisms; the importance of understanding sampling distributions. […]

Thoughts inspired by “the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife”

1. Harvard’s current position on the matter This is at Harvard University’s website: But, no, it’s not a “Coptic Papyrus Fragment.” That’s a lie. Or, I guess, several years ago we could call that statement a mistake, but given that it’s been known to be false for several years, I think it’s fair to call […]

Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science gets results!

A few months ago, we posted this job ad from Des McGowan: We are looking to hire multiple full time analysts/senior analysts to join the Baseball Analytics department at the New York Mets. The roles will involve building, testing, and presenting statistical models that inform decision-making in all facets of Baseball Operations. These positions require […]

Nicky Guerreiro and Ethan Simon write a Veronica Geng-level humor piece

I don’t usually go around recommending amusing things that are completely off topic to the blog, but this piece by Nicky Guerreiro and Ethan Simon was just too funny. It’s Veronica Geng-level quality, and I don’t say that lightly. As with Geng’s articles, you can laugh and be horrified at the same time. The story […]

“Off white: A preliminary taxonomy”

Lots has been written on this topic (“How the Irish Became White,” etc.), but this post by Paul Campos is an amusing starting point. As he points out, we often think about race/ethnicity/nationality in the context of U.S. politics, but it’s an issue, one way or another, pretty much everywhere in the world.

Probability problem involving multiple coronavirus tests in the same household

Mark Tuttle writes: Here is a potential homework problem for your students. The following is a true story. Mid-December, we have a household with five people. My wife and myself, and three who arrived from elsewhere. Subsequently, various diverse symptoms ensue – nothing too serious, but everyone is concerned, obviously. Video conference for all five […]

A new journal dedicated to quantitative description focused on digital media topic

Andy Guess, Kevin Munger, and Eszter Hargittai write: We’re thrilled to announce the launch of the new Journal of Quantitative Description: Digital Media. We have 18 great papers in the inaugural batch. We explain our rationale for a new journal in this piece. Sign up for our mailing list here. Please send us your best […]

Hullman’s theorem of graphical perception

Any experimental measure of graphical perception will inevitably not measure what it’s intended to measure. I extracted this “theorem” from various comments Jessica has made regarding her skepticism about empirical studies of the effectiveness of statistical graphics. Of course we should be doing empirical studies all the time, but you-know-who is in the details, as […]

“Bayesian Causal Inference for Real World Interactive Systems”

David Rohde points us to this workshop: Machine learning has allowed many systems that we interact with to improve performance and personalize. An important source of information in these systems is to learn from historical actions and their success or failure in applications – which is a type of causal inference. The Bayesian approach is […]

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