Category: Statistics

Statistical-significance filtering is a noise amplifier.

The above phrase just came up, and I think it’s important enough to deserve its own post. Well-meaning researchers do statistical-significance filtering all the time—it’s what they’re trained to do, it’s what they see in published papers in top journals, it’s what reviewers for journals want them to do—so I can understand why they do […]

Ellen DeGeneres vs. LeBron James (3); Pele advances

Not a lot yesterday; maybe Phil‘s right that the formation of the brackets is sometimes more fun than the actual competitions. Anyway, best argument came from Ethan: We’ve not thought at all about language. I think modern Portuguese might do better in Columbia’s neighborhood than classic French. Laplace would write equations in a universal language […]


Image editor Image editing software is complicated, and I don’t use it often enough to remember how to do much. I like Paint.NET on Windows because it is in a sort of sweet spot for me, more powerful than Paint and much less complicated than Photoshop. I found out there’s a program Pinta for Linux […]

distributed posteriors

Another presentation by our OxWaSP students introduced me to the notion of distributed posteriors, following a 2018 paper by Botond Szabó and Harry van Zanten. Which corresponds to the construction of posteriors when conducting a divide & conquer strategy. The authors show that an adaptation of the prior to the division of the sample is […]

“If You Were an R Function, What Function Would You Be?”

We’ve been getting some good uptake on our piping in R article announcement. The article is necessarily a bit technical. But one of its key points comes from the observation that piping into names is a special opportunity to give general objects the following personality quiz: “If you were an R function, what function would … Continue reading “If You Were an R Function, What Function Would You Be?”

Pele vs. Pierre Simon Laplace (2); Alan Turing advances

Best comment yesterday came from Manuel: Turing did not know how to train a machine to pass the Turing test. I’m sure Oprah knows how train a person to pass the Oprah test. But there is no Oprah test. So Turing will advance. Maybe next time we do this competition we can include Alison Bechdel. […]

What sticks in your head

This morning I read an article by Dennis Felsing about his impressive/intimidating Linux desktop setup. He uses a lot of tools that are not the easiest way to get things done immediately but are long-term productivity investments. Remembrance of syntax past Felsing apparently is able to remember the syntax of scores of tools and programming […]

Data For Progress’s RuPaul-Predict-a-Looza

Data for Progress launched the RuPaul-Predict-a-Looza (and winner), the first ever RuPaul’s Drag Race prediction competition. Statistical models versus NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson. The prize: bragging rights and the ability to add one policy question on the next Data for Progress survey. First predictions are due this Thursday (February 28). I made a notebook […]

how a hiring quota failed [or not]

This week, Nature has a “career news” section dedicated to how hiring quotas [may have] failed for French university hiring. And based solely on a technical report by a Science Po’ Paris researcher. The hiring quota means that every hiring committee for a French public university hiring committee must be made of at least 40% […]

Oprah Winfrey (1) vs. Alan Turing (4); Nora Ephron advances

Yesterday Diana gave an eloquent argument in favor of Voltaire, but then I came across this comment from Dzhaughn: I am concened, as Dalton was earlier, about the risk of uniting the Ephron-Streep-Child triumvirate. This could lead to bad things. Julie vs. Julia, courtroom drama. Jules or Julia, cashing in on the franchise. Meatless in […]

Evidence distortion in clinical trials

After seeing our recent post, “Seeding trials”: medical marketing disguised as science, Till Bruckner sent me this message: I’ve been working on clinical trial transparency issues for over two years now, first for AllTrials and now for TranspariMED, and can assure you that this is only the tip of the iceberg. This report by Transparency […]

Testing for primes less than a quintillion

The most common way to test whether a large number is prime is the Miller-Rabin test. If the test says a number is composite, it’s definitely composite. Otherwise the number is very likely, but not certain, to be prime. A pseudoprime is a composite number that slips past the Miller-Rabin test. (Actually, a strong pseudoprime. […]

Don’t worry, the post will be coming . . . eventually

Jordan Anaya sends along a link and writes: Not sure if you’re planning on covering this, but I noticed this today. This could also maybe be another example of the bullshit asymmetry principle since the original paper has an altmetric of 1300 and I’m not sure the rebuttal will get as much attention. I replied […]

The point at infinity

As I explained in an earlier post, a first pass at the definition of an elliptic curve is the set of points satisfying y² = x³ + ax + b. There are a few things missing from this definition, as indicated before, one being the mysterious “point at infinity.” I gave a hand-waving explanation that […]