Posts Tagged ‘ Errors ’

Reading Everything is Obvious by Duncan Watts

February 15, 2017
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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…

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Apparently Hollywood does not recycle action-movie plots. The data said so, so it must be right

January 25, 2017
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Apparently Hollywood does not recycle action-movie plots. The data said so, so it must be right

Today I continue to explore the movie dataset, found on Kaggle. To catch up with previous work, see the blog posts 1 and 2. One of the students came up with an interesting problem. Among the genre of action movies, are there particular plot elements that are correlated with box office? This problem is solvable because the dataset contains a variable called "plot keywords" lifted from IMDB. Plot keywords are…

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Good models + Bad data = Bad analysis

January 18, 2017
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Good models + Bad data = Bad analysis

Example showing how to diagnose bad data in data science models

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Inspired by water leaks

December 19, 2016
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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.…

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This election forecasting business

November 15, 2016
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This election forecasting business

If you live in the States, and particularly a blue state, in the last year or two, it has been drilled into your head that Hillary Clinton was the overwhelming favorite to win the Presidential election. On the day before the election, when all the major media outlets finalized their "election forecasting models," they unanimously pronounced Clinton the clear winner, with a probability of winning of 70% to 99%. One…

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Reader’s Guide to the Power Pose Controversy 3

November 2, 2016
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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…

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The idol worship of objective data is damaging our discipline

October 28, 2016
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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…

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Reader’s guide to the power pose controversy 2

October 21, 2016
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Yesterday, I started a series of posts covering the "power pose" research controversy. The plan is as follows: Key Idea 1: Peer Review, Manuscripts, Pop Science and TED Talks Key Idea 2: P < 0.05, P-hacking, Replication Studies, Pre-registration Key Idea 3: Negative Studies, and the File Drawer (Today) Key Idea 4: Degrees of Freedom, and the Garden of Forking Paths Key Idea 5: Sample Size Here is a quick…

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Reader’s guide to the power pose controversy 1

October 20, 2016
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I recently covered the power pose research controversy, ignited by an inflammatory letter by Susan Fiske (link). Dana Carney, one of the coauthors of the original power pose study, courageously came forward to disown the research, and explained the reasons why she no longer trusts the result. Here is her mea culpa. Her co-author, Amy Cuddy, then went to New York Magazine to publish her own corrective, claiming that the…

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Two quick hits: how bad data analysis harms our discourse

October 6, 2016
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I am traveling so have to make this brief. I will likely come back to these stories in the future to give a longer version of these comments. I want to react to two news items that came out in the past couple of days. First, Ben Stiller said that prostate cancer screening (the infamous PSA test) "saved his life". (link) So he is out there singing the praises of…

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