Posts Tagged ‘ Health ’

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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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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Background on my new 538 article on restaurant health grades

September 3, 2014
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Background on my new 538 article on restaurant health grades

Some behind-the-scenes comments on my recent article on New York's restaurant inspection grades; it appeared on FiveThirtyEight this Tuesday. *** The Nature of Ratings This article is about the ratings of things. I devoted a considerable amount of pages to this topic in Numbersense (link) - Chapter 1 is all about the US News ranking of schools. A few key points are: All rating schemes are completely subjective. There is…

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How to read Big Data studies

June 25, 2014
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This is part 3 of my response to Gelman's post about the DST/heart attacks study. The previous parts are here and here. One of the keys of vetting any Big Data/OCCAM study is taking note of the decisions made by the researchers in conducting the analysis. Most of these decisions involve subjective adjustments or unverifiable assumptions. Not that either of those things are inherently bad - indeed, any analysis one…

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Binge Reading Gelman

June 23, 2014
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Binge Reading Gelman

As others binge watch Netflix TV, I binge read Gelman posts, while riding a train with no wifi and a dying laptop battery. (This entry was written two weeks ago.) Andrew Gelman is statistics’ most prolific blogger. Gelman-binging has become a necessity since I have not managed to keep up with his accelerated posting schedule. Earlier this year, he began publishing previews of future posts, one week in advance, and…

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What the DST researchers actually found

June 16, 2014
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What the DST researchers actually found

To add to my prior post, having now read the published paper on the effect of DST on heart attacks, I can confirm that I disagree with the way the publicist hired by the journal messaged the research conclusion. And some of the fault lies with the researchers themselves who appear to have encouraged the exaggerated claim. Here is the summary of the research as written up by the researchers…

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Another PR effort to scare you into clicking

June 11, 2014
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Another PR effort to scare you into clicking

From Andrew Gelman's blog, I learned about a paper that makes the claim that daylight savings time could kill you. (Andrew links to this abstract, which is from a poster presentation at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology, and later published as a supplement in the ACC Journal; one of his readers found the published paper.) There is also a press release sponsored by the Journal with the…

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Round-up of coverage of the Big Miss of Big Data

April 9, 2014
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There is now some serious soul-searching in the mainstream media about their (previously) breath-taking coverage of the Big Data revolution. I am collecting some useful links here for those interested in learning more. Here's my Harvard Business Review article in which I discussed the Science paper disclosing that Google Flu Trends, that key exhibit of the Big Data lobby, has systematically over-estimated flu activity for 100 out of the last…

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Numbersense Pros: An interview with David Spiegelhalter

April 1, 2014
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Numbersense Pros: An interview with David Spiegelhalter

I am excited to chat with Professor David Spiegelhalter, who is no strangers to our UK audience, and our statistics colleagues. Perhaps his most well-known contribution is the DIC criterion for model selection, introduced by a paper by him and collaborators. He holds the impressive title of Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge (link). He also writes a blog called Understanding Uncertainty (link),…

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Toward a more useful definition of Big Data

March 17, 2014
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Toward a more useful definition of Big Data

The article (link) in Science about the failure of Google Flu Trends is important for many reasons. One is the inexplicable silence in the Big Data community about this little big problem: it's not as if this is breaking news -- it was known as early as 2009 that Flu Trends completely missed the swine flu pandemic (link), underestimating it by 50%, and then in 2013, Nature reported that Flu…

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