Posts Tagged ‘ Medicine ’

Sitting still against the myth that sitting kills

March 23, 2016
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The fad of standing while working may die hard but science is catching up to it. The idea that standing at work will make one healthier has always been a tough one to believe. It requires a series of premises: Using a standing desk increases the amount of standing Standing longer improves one's health The health improvement is measurable using a well-defined metric The incremental standing is of sufficient amount…

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Statbusters: standing may or may not stand a chance

December 7, 2015
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In our latest Statbusters column for the Daily Beast, we read the research behind the claim that "standing reduces odds of obesity". Especially at younger companies, it is trendy to work at standing desks because of findings like this. We find a variety of statistical issues calling for better studies. For example, the observational dataset used provides no clue as to whether sitting causes obesity or obesity leads to more…

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‘The Libertarian Republic’ author refers to Obamacare ‘spike’ in medical adminstrators before it even became law.

December 3, 2015
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‘The Libertarian Republic’ author refers to Obamacare ‘spike’ in medical adminstrators before it even became law.

I don't usually read 'The Libertarian Republic', but this article was shared by a friend on my Facebook feed. The author writes that the 'armies of bureaucrats' (i.e., medical administrators), necessitated by government regulation, are responsible for the rise in medical costs. The evidence presented is a figure that shows the growth of physicians and … Continue reading 'The Libertarian Republic' author refers to Obamacare 'spike' in medical adminstrators before…

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The proliferation of useless data

November 29, 2015
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One of the secrets of great data analysis is thoughtful data collection. Great data collection is necessary but not sufficient for great data analysis. I recently had the unfortunate need to select a new doctor. Every time I had to do this, it has been an exercise in frustration and desperation. And after wasting hours and hours perusing the "data" on doctors, inevitably I give up and just throw a…

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Egregious chart brings back bad memories

November 19, 2015
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Egregious chart brings back bad memories

My friend Alberto Cairo said it best: if you see bullshit, say "bullshit!" He was very incensed by this egregious "infographic": (link to his post) Emily Schuch provided a re-visualization: The new version provides a much richer story of how...

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Andrew Gelman delivers a lesson on statistical adjustment, so you can relax about middle-aged men killing themselves

November 11, 2015
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Andrew Gelman delivers a lesson on statistical adjustment, so you can relax about middle-aged men killing themselves

My co-columnist Andrew Gelman has been doing some fantastic work, digging behind that trendy news story that claims that middled-aged, non-Hispanic, white male Americans are dying at an abnormal rate. See, for example, this New York Times article that not only reports the statistical pattern but also in its headline, asserts that those additional deaths were due to suicide and substance abuse. It all bega n with the chart shown…

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Statbusters: Games people play with the placebo effect

November 3, 2015
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In the first two chapters of Numbersense, I discuss how people game statistics, and why gaming is inevitable. I have also written about the placebo effect before. Another article has appeared covering the same topic -- the industry doesn't like the fact that more and more drugs fail to clear the "placebo" hurdle; and the industry thinks the problem is that the placebo effect is mysteriously increasing over time. What…

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RIP GFT

November 3, 2015
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It appears that Google Flu Trends (GFT) has slipped quietly into the night. In a short post to the Google Research blog, the team behind GFT announced that they are "no longer publishing" flu estimates, effectively ending the seven-year-old experiment. The GFT home page now links to some historical datasets. The post was dated August 15, and it appears that mainstream media completely missed it. GFT was one of the…

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Keep eating those sausages

November 2, 2015
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I am outsourcing this post to Aaron Carroll, whose Upshot column eviscerates the recent claim that eating meat will give you cancer, or that eating meat is the same as smoking cigarettes. While the media is partly culpable for spreading misinformation...

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More chart drama, and data aggregation

October 26, 2015
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More chart drama, and data aggregation

Robert Kosara posted a response to my previous post. He raises an important issue in data visualization - the need to aggregate data, and not plot raw data. I have no objection to that point. What was shown in my...

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