Posts Tagged ‘ Health ’

How to read survey results: chocolate milk edition

June 19, 2017
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Apparently, the Washington Post decided to assist the dairy industry in its latest advertising campaign by publishing a weird survey result, which claims that some adults believe that chocolate milk comes from brown cows. (link) Just start by thinking about the survey design. In order for people to express this opinion, the survey had to contain a choice of "brown cows." If they had done an open-ended survey, the result…

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What is Mr. Pruitt saying?

April 3, 2017
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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…

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This headline writer has the secret to everlasting life

January 17, 2017
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This headline writer has the secret to everlasting life

I'm busy preparing a long post that will show up later. In the meantime, I saw this on GrubStreet: Read the sub-header. Wouldn't it be nice to have only 87 percent chance of dying?

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ASA President meets OCCAM data

December 27, 2016
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Just leaving this quote from ASA President Jessica Utts here (Source: Amstat News Dec 2016): A few days ago, I was in Vietnam and took a four-hour bus ride from Ha Long Bay to Hanoi. When I arrived, my fitness tracker had given me credit for taking 9,124 steps and climbing 81 flights of stairs during those four hours, even though I only left my seat once during a short…

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The plural of anecdote is not …

October 12, 2016
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The plural of anecdote is not …

One of my favorite statistics-related wisecracks is: the plural of anecdote is not data. In today's world, the saying should really say: the plural of anecdote is not BIG DATA. In class this week, we discussed a recent Letter to the Editor of top journal, New England Journal of Medicine, featuring a short analysis of weight data coming from a digital scale that, you guessed it, makes users consent to…

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The plural of anecdote is not …

October 12, 2016
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The plural of anecdote is not …

One of my favorite statistics-related wisecracks is: the plural of anecdote is not data. In today's world, the saying should really say: the plural of anecdote is not BIG DATA. In class this week, we discussed a recent Letter to the Editor of top journal, New England Journal of Medicine, featuring a short analysis of weight data coming from a digital scale that, you guessed it, makes users consent to…

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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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GMO labeling is good science

August 18, 2016
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A GMO labeling law has arrived in the US, albeit one that has no teeth (link). For those who don't want to click on the link, the law is passed in haste to pre-empt a more stringent Vermont law. The federal law defines GMO narrowly, businesses do not need to put word labels on packages (they can, for example, provide an 800-number), and violaters will not be punished. One of…

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It’s more important to know the source than the value of a number

July 12, 2016
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Here we go again. ABC News reported that Ricky Williams, former NFL star, proclaimed himself as holding "the world record for most times drug tested". (link) He said he was tested 500 times. During this 11-year career, Williams failed the test four times. So there is one thing we know - the drug testing regime is not much of a deterrent. Since the athlete knows when he is juicing or…

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Tip of the day: don’t be Theranosed

May 23, 2016
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Theranos (v): to spin stories that appeal to data while not presenting any data To be Theranosed is to fall for scammers who tell stories appealing to data but do not present any actual data. This is worse than story time, in which the storyteller starts out with real data but veers off mid-stream into unsubstantiated froth, hoping you and I got carried away by the narrative flow. Theranos (n):…

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