Blog Archives

Timid medical research

April 15, 2014
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Cancer research is sometimes criticized for being timid. Drug companies run enormous trials looking for small improvements. Critics say they should run smaller trials and more of them. Which side is correct depends on what’s out there waiting to be…Read more ›

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The mean of the mean is the mean

April 9, 2014
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The mean of the mean is the mean

There’s a theorem in statistics that says You could read this aloud as “the mean of the mean is the mean.” More explicitly, it says that the expected value of the average of some number of samples from some distribution…Read more ›

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On replacing calculus with statistics

March 7, 2014
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Russ Roberts had this to say about the proposal to replacing the calculus requirement with statistics for students. Statistics is in many ways much more useful for most students than calculus. The problem is, to teach it well is extraordinarily…Read more ›

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Nomenclatural abomination

March 4, 2014
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David Hogg calls conventional statistical notation a “nomenclatural abomination”: The terminology used throughout this document enormously overloads the symbol p(). That is, we are using, in each line of this discussion, the function p() to mean something different; its meaning…Read more ›

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What good is an old weather forecast?

February 6, 2014
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What good is an old weather forecast?

Why would anyone care about what the weather was predicted to be once you know what the weather actually was? Because people make decisions based in part on weather predictions, not just weather. Eric Floehr of ForecastWatch told me that…Read more ›

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Heterogeneous data

January 9, 2014
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I have a quibble with the following paragraph from Introducing Windows Azure for IT Professionals: The problem with big data is that it’s difficult to analyze it when the data is stored in many different ways. How do you analyze…Read more ›

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Some fields produce more false results than others

December 19, 2013
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John Ioannidis stirred up a healthy debate when he published Why Most Published Research Findings Are False. Unfortunately, most of the discussion has been over whether the word “most” is correct, i.e. whether the proportion of false results is more…Read more ›

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Book review: Practical Data Analysis

November 25, 2013
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Book review: Practical Data Analysis

Many people have drawn Venn diagrams to locate machine learning and related ideas in the intellectual landscape. Drew Conway’s diagram may have been the first. It has at least been frequently referenced. By this classification, Hector Cuesta’s new book Practical…Read more ›

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Convenient and innocuous priors

November 21, 2013
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Andrew Gelman has some interesting comments on non-informative priors this morning. Rather than thinking of the prior as a static thing, think of it as a way to prime the pump. … a non-informative prior is a placeholder: you can…Read more ›

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Elusive statistics

November 12, 2013
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From Controversies in the Foundations of Statistics by Bradley Efron: Statistics seems to be a difficult subject for mathematicians, perhaps because its elusive and wide-ranging character mitigates against the traditional theorem-proof method of presentation. It may come as some comfort…Read more ›

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