Posts Tagged ‘ decision-making ’

Data sleaze: Uber and beyond

April 26, 2017
By

There has been a barrage of negative publicity related to Uber recently. The latest salvo is a long article in the New York Times (link). This piece focuses on Uber's CEO, who was trained as a computer engineer, but my interest lies primarily in several revelations about how Uber collects and uses customer data. The key episode picked up by various outlets (e.g. TechCrunch, Wired) involves Uber "secretly identifying and…

Read more »

Dispute over analysis of school quality and home prices shows social science is hard

April 24, 2017
By
Dispute over analysis of school quality and home prices shows social science is hard

Most of my friends with families fret over school quality when deciding where to buy their homes. It's well known that good school districts are also associated with expensive houses. A feedback cycle is at work here: home prices surge where there are good schools; only richer people can afford to buy such homes; wealth brings other advantages, and so the schools tend to have better students, which leads to…

Read more »

My pre-existing United boycott, and some musing on randomness and fairness

April 12, 2017
By

You probably already saw the video - if not, do yourself a favor, and search for "man forcibly removed from overbooked United flight." Other than the video evidence, which is damning, we don't have many facts, other than assertions made by various parties, repeated endlessly on social media and mainline media. Some facts, such as the United CEO claiming the passenger was "belligerent," is an assault on the meaning of…

Read more »

What is Mr. Pruitt saying?

April 3, 2017
By

In his latest provocation, the EPA Chief, Scott Pruitt, aborted an on-going process by his agency to ban a widely-used but potentially harmful pesticide known as chlorpyrifos (link to New York Times article). In my previous blog on his climate-change statement, I pointed out that people who attack data-driven conclusions for its "imprecision" will ignore any uncertainty if they want something to happen: However, when it comes to such decisions…

Read more »

Confused by machines, or spooked by the machine-makers

March 29, 2017
By

This New York Times article draws attention to real trends in the financial investments industry but gets completely lost in the smoke around those pushing "machines" and "data". The trend most concerning to the investments industry is the sustained, large-scale outflow of money from "actively-managed" funds, mutual funds being the biggest category of such. The industry makes loads of money from management fees by promoting the idea that investors are…

Read more »

One statement employing two resistance tactics to fend off the data

March 10, 2017
By

I want to parse this statement by new EPA Chief Scott Pruitt, as quoted in this New York Times article: I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see. I'm not going to talk about…

Read more »

Reading Everything is Obvious by Duncan Watts

February 15, 2017
By
Reading Everything is Obvious by Duncan Watts

In his book, Everything is Obvious (Once You Know the Answer): Why Common Sense Fails, Duncan Watts, a professor of sociology at Columbia, imparts urgent lessons that are as relevant to his students as to self-proclaimed data scientists. It takes only nominal effort to generate narrative structures that retrace the past, Watts contends, but developing lasting theory that produces valid predictions requires much more effort than common sense. Watts’s is…

Read more »

Inspired by water leaks

December 19, 2016
By
Inspired by water leaks

For me, 2016 is a year of water leaks. I was forced to move apartments during the summer. (Blame my old landlord for the lower frequency of posts this year!) That old apartment was overrun by water issues. In the past four years, there were two big leaks in addition to annual visible "seepage" in the ceiling. The first big leak ruined my first night back from Hurricane Sandy-induced evacuation.…

Read more »

Reader’s Guide to the Power Pose Controversy 3

November 2, 2016
By

This is the third and final post about the controversy over statistical analysis used in peer-reviewed published scholarly research. Most of the new stuff are covered in post #2 (link). Today's post covers statistical issues related to sample size, which is nothing new, but it was mentioned in Amy Cuddy's response to her critics and thus I also discuss it here. In post #2 (link), I offer the following mental…

Read more »

The idol worship of objective data is damaging our discipline

October 28, 2016
By

In class last week, I discussed this New York Times article with the students. One of the claims in the article is that the U.S. News ranking of colleges is under threat by newcomers whose rankings are more relevant because they more directly measure outcomes such as earnings of graduates. This specific claim in the article makes me head hurt: "If nothing else, earnings are objective and, as the database…

Read more »


Subscribe

Email:

  Subscribe