Posts Tagged ‘ Current Affairs ’

Three axes or none

December 11, 2014
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Three axes or none

Catching up on some older submissions. Reader Nicholas S. saw this mind-boggling chart about Chris Nolan movies when Interstellar came out: This chart was part of an article by Vulture (link). It may be the first time I see not...

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Gelman explains why massive sample sizes to chase after tiny effects is silly

November 21, 2014
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What a lucky day I found time to catch up on some Gelman. He posted about the Facebook research ethics controversy, and I'm glad to see that he and I have pretty much the same attitude (my earlier post is here.). It's a storm in a teacup. Gelman makes two other points about the Facebook study--unrelated to the ethics--which are very important. First, he said: if we happen to see…

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Financial and statistical incentives to over-diagnose and over-treat

November 10, 2014
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Nice article in the New York Times about the "overdiagnosis" problem in cancer screening. The particular case is thyroid cancer in South Korea. There are a number of things about any form of screening tests that one should always bear in mind: Death rate is measured as the number of deaths divided by the number of people with the disease. The latter number increases with better diagnosis techniques. Better diagnosis…

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A rule-breaking, cliche-defying, punch-carrying chart worthy of the election

November 6, 2014
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A rule-breaking, cliche-defying, punch-carrying chart worthy of the election

This NYT graphic published on the eve of the Senate elections represents the best of data visualization: it carries its message with a punch. The link to the web page is here. The graphic proudly occupied the front page of...

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I can’t believe I’m citing David Brooks on data

November 6, 2014
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This is a first. I'm agreeing with David Brooks. Sort of. In his new NYT column titled "Death by Data" (link), Brooks disparaged the recently celebrated practice of using machine learning in electoral politics, such as trying to win elections "Obama-style" by targeting investments on the people most likely to listen to his message, and trying to craft electoral messages by testing and measuring how people react to certain words…

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Chatting with Facebook scientists about charting

October 15, 2014
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Chatting with Facebook scientists about charting

I had the pleasure of visiting the Facebook data science team last week, and we spent some time chatting about visual communication, something they care as much about as I do. Solomon reported about our conversation in this blog post....

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Count data are less useful than you think

October 14, 2014
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Count data are less useful than you think

A lot of Big Data analyses default to analyzing count data, e.g. number of searches of certain keywords, number of page views, number of clicks, number of complaints, etc. Doing so throws away much useful information, and frequently leads to bad analyses. *** I was reminded of the limitation of count data when writing about the following chart, which I praised on my sister blog as a good example of…

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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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Princeton’s loss of nerve

October 2, 2014
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Princeton’s loss of nerve

I have earlier reported that Princeton's new President has initiated a review of their "grade deflation" policy that was put in almost ten years ago. As you may recall (link), grading in U.S. colleges has become a farce: at top-tier schools, getting an A means you are an average student; not getting an A is many times more informative than getting an A. The new administration at Princeton has now…

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Relevance, to you or me: a response to Cairo

September 15, 2014
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Relevance, to you or me: a response to Cairo

Alberto Cairo discussed a graphic by the New York Times on the slowing growth of Medicare spending (link). The chart on the top is published, depicting the quite dramatic flattening of the growth in average spending over the last years--average...

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