Varieties of description in political science

October 9, 2014
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Markus Kreuzer writes: I am organizing a panel at next year’s American Political Science Association meeting tentatively entitled “Varieties of Description.” The idea is to compare and contrast the ways in which different disciplines approach descriptive inferences, that how they go about collective data, how they validate descriptive inferences and what ontological assumptions they make. […]

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Data science can’t be point and click

October 9, 2014
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Data science can’t be point and click

As data becomes cheaper and cheaper there are more people that want to be able to analyze and interpret that data.  I see more and more that people are creating tools to accommodate folks who aren't trained but who still want to look at data right now. While I admire the principle of this approach - we

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Pondering OCCAM data in medicine

October 9, 2014
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Pondering OCCAM data in medicine

The New York Times Magazine has a pretty good piece about the use of OCCAM data to solve medical questions, like diagnosis and drug selection. I'm happy that it paints a balanced picture of both the promise and the pitfalls. Here are some thoughts in my head as I read this piece: Small samples coupled with small effects pose a design problem in traditional clinical trials. The subjects of the…

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“Science does not advance by guessing”

October 9, 2014
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I agree with Deborah Mayo who agrees with Carlo Rovelli that “Science does not advance by guessing. It advances by new data or by a deep investigation of the content and the apparent contradictions of previous empirically successful theories.” And, speaking as a statistician and statistical educator, I think there’s a big problem with the […]

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"Statistically Insignificant" or "Non-Statistically Significant"

October 9, 2014
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I use the phrases "statistical insignificance" and "statistically insignificant" often, but I was recently informed that these terms are not correct. Instead, I was told to say something like "non-statistically significant." In light of this, I'm careful to say "not statistically significance" or "a lack of statistical significance" in my forthcoming AJPS article. Since then, though, […]

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An infographic showing up here for the right reason

October 9, 2014
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An infographic showing up here for the right reason

Infographics do not have to be "data ornaments" (link). Once in a blue moon, someone finds the right balance of pictures and data. Here is a nice example from the Wall Street Journal, via ThumbsUpViz. Link to the image What...

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Seasonal adjustment in the news

October 9, 2014
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Seasonal adjustment in the news

It’s not every day that seasonal adjustment makes the front page of the newspapers, but it has today with the ABS saying that the recent seasonally adjusted unemployment data would be revised. I was interviewed about the underlying concepts for the Guardian in this piece. Further comment from me about users paying for the ABS data […]

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The Leek group guide to genomics papers

October 8, 2014
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Leek group guide to genomics papers When I was a student, my advisor, John Storey, made a list of papers for me to read on nights and weekends. That list was incredibly helpful for a couple of reasons. It got me caught up on the field of computational genomics It was expertly curated, so it filtered

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2nd Edition of Doing Bayesian Data Analysis available November 2014

October 8, 2014
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2nd Edition of Doing Bayesian Data Analysis available November 2014

The 2nd Edition of Doing Bayesian Data Analysis will be available in early or mid November, 2014. The book is completely re-written from cover to cover, with loads of new material, and all new programs. For complete information, please see the book's n...

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When there’s a lot of variation, it can be a mistake to make statements about “typical” attitudes

October 8, 2014
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When there’s a lot of variation, it can be a mistake to make statements about “typical” attitudes

This story has two points: 1. There’s a tendency for scientific results to be framed in absolute terms (in psychology, this corresponds to general claims about the population) but that can be a mistake in that sometimes the most important part of the story is variation; and 2. Before getting to the comparisons, it can […]

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Julia style string literal interpolation in R

October 8, 2014
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Julia style string literal interpolation in R

I feel like a sculptor who has been using the same metal tools for the last four years and happened to have looked at my comrades and found them sporting new, sleek electric tools. Suddenly all of the hard work put into maintaining and adapting my meta...

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The name of a parameter in the parent environment

October 8, 2014
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The name of a parameter in the parent environment

SAS/IML 13.1 includes a handy function for programmers who write a lot of modules. The PARENTNAME function obtains the name of the symbol that was passed in as a parameter to a user-defined module. How is this useful? Well, suppose that you want to create a SAS/IML module that prints […]

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Connect with local employers

October 7, 2014
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Connect with local employers

I keep telling students that there are lots of jobs in data science (including statistics), and they often tell me they can’t find them advertised. As usual, you do have to do some networking, and one of the best ways of doing it is via a Data Science Meetup. Many cities now have them including […]

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Rational != Self-interested

October 7, 2014
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Rational != Self-interested

I’ve said it before (along with Aaron Edlin and Noah Kaplan) and I’ll say it again. Rationality and self-interest are two dimensions of behavior. An action can be: 1. Rational and self-interested 2. Irrational and self-interested 3. Rational and altruistic 4. Irrational and altruistic. It’s easy enough to come up with examples of all of […]

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Experts clinging on to their predictions

October 7, 2014
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Andrew Gelman touches on one of my favorite topics: prediction accuracy, and experts who cling to their predictions. Here's Andrew at the Monkey Cage blog. His starting point is a piece by sociologist Jay Livingston on how various well-known economists made vague predictions (e.g. "I see inflation around the corner") and kept clinging to them (eventually, there will be inflation). Several theories are given to explain this behavior. One is…

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randomness in coin tosses and last digits of prime numbers

October 7, 2014
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randomness in coin tosses and last digits of prime numbers

A rather intriguing note that was arXived last week: it is essentially one page long and it compares the power law of the frequency range for the Bernoulli experiment with the power law of the frequency range for the distribution of the last digits of the first 10,000 prime numbers to conclude that the power […]

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Data decorations, ornaments, chartjunk, and all that

October 7, 2014
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Data decorations, ornaments, chartjunk, and all that

Alberto Cairo left a comment about "data decorations". This is a name he's using to describe something like the windshield-wiper chart I discussed the other day. It seems like the visual elements were purely ornamental and adds nothing to the...

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Visualising the seasonality of Atlantic windstorms

October 7, 2014
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Visualising the seasonality of  Atlantic windstorms

Last week Arthur Charpentier sketched out a Markov spatial process to generate hurricane trajectories. Here, I would like to take another look at the data Arthur used, but focus on its time component. According to the Insurance Information Institute, a...

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IIF Sponsored Workshops

October 6, 2014
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IIF Sponsored Workshops

The International Institute of Forecasters sponsors workshops every year, each of which focuses on a specific theme. The purpose of these workshops is to facilitate small, informal meetings where experts in a particular field of forecasting can discuss forecasting problems, research, and solutions. Over the years, our workshops have covered topics from Predicting Rare Events, […]

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The winds of Winter [Bayesian prediction]

October 6, 2014
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The winds of Winter [Bayesian prediction]

A surprising entry on arXiv this morning: Richard Vale (from Christchurch, NZ) has posted a paper about the characters appearing in the yet hypothetical next volume of George R.R. Martin’s Song of ice and fire series, The winds of Winter [not even put for pre-sale on amazon!]. Using the previous five books in the series […]

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“We have used Stan to study dead dolphins”

October 6, 2014
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“We have used Stan to study dead dolphins”

In response to our call for references to successful research using Stan, Matthieu Authier points us to this: @article{ year={2014}, journal={Biodiversity and Conservation}, volume={23}, number={10}, doi={10.1007/s10531-014-0741-3}, title={How much are stranding records affected by variation in reporting rates? A case study of small delphinids in the Bay of Biscay}, url={http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10531-014-0741-3}, keywords={Monitoring; Marine mammal; Strandings}, author={Authier, Matthieu […]

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Julia: The "Distributions" Package

October 6, 2014
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Julia: The "Distributions" Package

This is a follow up to my post from a few days ago exploring random number generation in Julia's base system.  In this post I will explore the 'distributions' package.You can find the excellent documentation on the "Distributions" package at: http...

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“Regular Customer: It was so much easier when I was a bum. I didn’t have to wake up at 4am to go to work, didn’t have all these bills and girlfriends.”

October 6, 2014
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Love the Liberry is still going strong.

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