Comments on “Ten common statistical mistakes…”: #1 and #2

The steady stream of scientific articles with irreproducible results, shaky conclusions, and poor reasoning [1] is, thankfully, accompanied by attempts to do something about it. A few months ago, Tamar Makin and Jean-Jacques Orban de Xivry published an excellent short article called “Ten common statistical mistakes to watch out for when writing or reviewing a … Continue reading Comments on “Ten common statistical mistakes…”: #1 and #2

A pandemic model I’d like to see

Amid the deluge of data, speculations, and commiserations about the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, here’s a modeling exercise mixing epidemiology and economics that I haven’t seen done, and that I think is important. Stated in four parts: 1. Closing schools and businesses saves lives by slowing the spread of disease, facilitating the treatment of infected … Continue reading A pandemic model I’d like to see

Local trends in college majors (Or: Do Oregon students choose offbeat degrees?)

A remarkable graph I came across a few weeks ago, copied below, shows the changes in the numbers of students majoring in various topics between 2011 and 2017. Part of an insightful article by Benjamin Schmidt titled “The History BA Since the Great Recession”, it reports a sharp drop in history majors, a steep rise … Continue reading Local trends in college majors (Or: Do Oregon students choose offbeat degrees?)

Machine Learning Mixer

What do mice chasing crickets, particle accelerators, solid sponges for natural gas storage, and toddlers with cameras mounted on their heads have in common? All were the subjects of short talks at yesterday afternoon’s “Informal Symposium” on Machine Learning in the Sciences at the University of Oregon, that Teddy Hay, Gabriel Barello, and I co-organized. … Continue reading Machine Learning Mixer

Witchcraft, Guts, and Statistics

A few months ago, I read parts of “Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic among the Azande” (E.E. Evans-Pritchard, 1937). I like cultural anthropology, and I much prefer descriptions of the creative ways that humans have constructed societies to the more “scientific” anthropology that now seems more prevalent, and so it’s not surprising that I found Evans-Pritchard’s … Continue reading Witchcraft, Guts, and Statistics

Fight the power (pose)

Why is science communication difficult? For subjects like vaccination, climate change, genetic modification, and more, there are rifts between the views of scientists and the views of large segments of the US population, rifts that seem driven not only by a lack of understanding of scientific concepts, but also by a lack of understanding of … Continue reading Fight the power (pose)

You may not be interested in noise, but noise is interested in you

[Edit, Sept. 25, 2016: In retrospect, this is a confusing post. The overall point is fine, but my contrived illustration is not a good one.] At an otherwise excellent talk some time ago, the speaker put up a graph like this (look below — not the cheetah)… …and said that the two sets of data points, … Continue reading You may not be interested in noise, but noise is interested in you