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Archive of posts filed under the Miscellaneous Statistics category.

Formalizing questions about feedback loops from model predictions

This is Jessica. Recently I asked a question about when a model developer should try to estimate the relationship between model predictions and the observed behavior that results when people have access to the model predictions. Kenneth Tay suggested a recent machine learning paper on Performative Prediction by Juan Perdomo Tijana Zrnic. Celestine Mendler-Dunner and […]

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 […]

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. […]

When can a predictive model improve by anticipating behavioral reactions to its predictions?

This is Jessica. Most of my research involves data interfaces in some way or another, and recently I’ve felt pulled toward asking more theoretical questions about what effects interfaces can or should have in different settings. For instance, the title of the post is one question I’ve started thinking about: In situations where a statistical […]

Is it really true that “the U.S. death rate in 2020 was the highest above normal since the early 1900s—even surpassing the calamity of the 1918 flu pandemic”?

tl;dr. No, it’s not true. The death rate increased by 15% from 2019 to 2020, but it jumped by 40% from 1917 to 1918. But, if so, why would anyone claim differently? Therein lies a tale. A commenter pointed to a news article with the above graphs and the following claim: The U.S. death rate […]

Can you trust international surveys? A follow-up:

Michael Robbins writes: A few years ago you covered a significant controversy in the survey methods literature about data fabrication in international survey research. Noble Kuriakose and I put out a proposed test for data quality. At the time there were many questions raised about the validity of this test. As such, I thought you […]

“Do you come from Liverpool?”

Paul Alper writes: Because I used to live in Trondheim, I have a special interest in this NYT article about exercise results in Trondheim, Norway. Obviously, even without reading the article in any detail, the headline claim that The Secret to Longevity? 4-Minute Bursts of Intense Exercise May Help can be misleading and is subject […]

Conference on digital twins

Ron Kenett writes: This conference and the special issue that follows might be of interest to (some) of your blog readers. Here’s what it says there: The concept of digital twins is based on a combination of physical models that describe the machine’s behavior and its deterioration processes over time with analytics capabilities that enable […]

More on that credulity thing

I see five problems here that together form a feedback loop with bad consequences. Here are the problems: 1. Irrelevant or misunderstood statistical or econometric theory; 2. Poorly-executed research; 3. Other people in the field being loath to criticize, taking published or even preprinted claims as correct until proved otherwise; 4. Journalists taking published or […]

Rob Tibshirani, Yuling Yao, and Aki Vehtari on cross validation

Rob Tibshirani writes: About 9 years ago I emailed you about our new significance result for the lasso. You wrote about in your blog. For some reason I never saw that full blog until now. I do remember the Stanford-Berkeley Seminar in 1994 where I first presented the lasso and you asked that question. Anyway, […]

What’s the biggest mistake revealed by this table? A puzzle:

This came up in our discussion the other day: It’s a table comparing averages for treatment and control groups in an experiment. There’s one big problem here (summarizing differences by p-values) and some little problems, such as reporting values to ridiculous precision (who cares if something has an average of “346.57” when its standard deviation […]

Is he … you know…?

Today I learnt, via Sam Power from Bristol, that the legendary IJ Good and the possibly legendary (I really don’t know) RA Gaskins suggested, in their 1971 paper on density estimation, referring to the roughness penalty from density estimation (or non-linear regression) as the flamboyance1 functional. And it would be a crime if we, as a field, […]

Richard Hamming’s “The Art of Doing Science and Engineering”

I bought this charming book and started flipping through and reading bits here and there. It has a real mid-twentieth-century feel, reminiscent of Richard Feynman, Martin Gardner, and Hugo Steinhaus. It gives me some nostalgia, thinking about a time when it was expected that students could do all sorts of math—it kinda made me wish […]

Whassup with the haphazard coronavirus statistics?

Peter Dorman writes: This piece by Robinson Meyer and Alexis Madrigal on the inadequacy of Covid data is useful but frustrating. I think they could have dispensed with the self-puffery, rhetoric and sweeping generalizations and been more detailed about data issues. Nevertheless the core point is one that you and others have stressed, that too […]

No, I don’t like talk of false positive false negative etc but it can still be useful to warn people about systematic biases in meta-analysis

Simon Gates writes: Something published recently that you might consider blogging: a truly terrible article in Lancet Oncology. It raises the issue of interpreting trials of similar agents and the issue of multiplicity. However, it takes a “dichotomaniac” view and so is only concerned about whether results are “significant” (=”positive”) or not, and suggests applying […]

What is the landscape of uncertainty outside the clinical trial’s methods?

I live in the province of British Columbia in the country of Canada (right, this post is not by Andrew, it is by Lizzie). Recently one of our top provincial health officials, Dr. Bonnie Henry, has received extra scrutiny based on her decision to delay second doses of the vaccine. The general argument against this […]

Bayesian methods and what they offer compared to classical econometrics

A well-known economist who wishes to remain anonymous writes: Can you write about this agent? He’s getting exponentially big on Twitter. The link is to an econometrician, Jeffrey Wooldridge, who writes: Many useful procedures—shrinkage, for example—can be derived from a Bayesian perspective. But those estimators can be studied from a frequentist perspective, and no strong […]

My talk’s on April Fool’s but it’s not actually a joke

For the Boston chapter of the American Statistical Association, I’ll be speaking on this paper with Aki: What are the most important statistical ideas of the past 50 years? We argue that the most important statistical ideas of the past half century are: counterfactual causal inference, bootstrapping and simulation-based inference, overparameterized models and regularization, multilevel […]

Alan Sokal on exponential growth and coronavirus rebound

Alan Sokal writes: Last week Prime Minister Boris Johnson assured Britons that, come 21 June—at least, if all goes according to plan—we will “re-open everything up to and including nightclubs, and enable large events such as theatre performances.” Life will return to normal, or so he says. Alas, Johnson is fooling himself, and it takes […]

A new approach to pandemic control by informing people of their social distance from exposure

Po-Shen Lo, a mathematician who works in graph theory, writes about a new approach he devised for pandemic control. He writes: The significance of this new approach is potentially very high, because it not only can improve the current situation, but it would permanently add a new orthogonal tool to the toolbox for pandemic control, […]

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