Posts Tagged ‘ science ’

Some statistics about nutrition statistics

May 26, 2015
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I only read nutrition studies in the service of this blog but otherwise, I don't trust them or care. Nevertheless, the health beat of most media outlets is obsessed with printing the latest research on coffee or eggs or fats or alcohol or what have you. Now, the estimable John Ioannidis has published an editorial in BMJ titled "Implausible Results in Human Nutrition Research". John previously told us about the…

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Story time, known unknowns and the endowment effect in an HBR article on customer data

May 6, 2015
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Story time, known unknowns and the endowment effect in an HBR article on customer data

Harvard Business Review devotes a long article to customer data privacy in the May issue (link). The article raises important issues, such as the low degree of knowledge about what data are being collected and traded, the value people place on their data privacy, and so on. In a separate post, I will discuss why I don't think the recommendations issued by the authors will resolve the issues they raised.…

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Gelman speed read

April 23, 2015
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For those who have found it tough to keep up with Andrew Gelman's prolificacy, here are some brief summaries of several recent posts: On people obsessed with proving the statistical significance of tiny effects: "they are trying to use a bathroom scale to weigh a feather—and the feather is resting loosely in the pouch of a kangaroo that is vigorously jumping up and down." (link) [I left a comment. In…

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More on the AA paper

April 21, 2015
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More on the AA paper

This is a supplement to the previous post about a new research paper on the effect of Alcoholics Anonymous, and an NY Times exposition that I commented on. A misreading of that article led me to complain about per-protocol analysis, which wasn't the methodology behind the Humphrey et. al. research. I will explain their methodology in this post (known as instrumental variables analysis). *** In the last post, I showed…

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NYT likes new AA study. Why I am not convinced.

April 20, 2015
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NYT likes new AA study. Why I am not convinced.

[After communicating with Frakt, Humphrey and Dean Eckles, I realize that I was confused about Frakt's description of the Humphrey paper, which does not perform PP analysis. So when reading this post, consider it a discussion of ITT versus PP analysis. I will post about Humphrey's methodology separately.] The New York Times plugged a study of the effectiveness of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) (link). The author (Austin Frakt) used this occasion…

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Guidelines for reporting confidence intervals

April 17, 2015
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I'm working on a manuscript on confidence intervals, and I thought I'd share a draft section on the reporting of confidence intervals. The paper has several demonstrations of how CIs may, or may not, offer quality inferences, and how they can differ ma...

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Some thoughts on replication

April 9, 2015
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Some thoughts on replication

In a recent blog post, Simine Vazire discusses the problem with the logic of requiring replicators to explain when they reach different conclusions to the original authors. She frames it, correctly, it as asking people to over-interpret random noi...

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Scala for Machine Learning [book review]

April 9, 2015
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Scala for Machine Learning [book review]

Nicolas, Patrick R. (2014) Scala for Machine Learning, Packt Publishing: Birmingham, UK. Full disclosure: I received a free electronic version of this book from the publisher for the purposes of review. There is clearly a market for a good book about using Scala for statistical computing, machine learning and data science. So when the publisher … Continue reading Scala for Machine Learning [book review]

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What popular baby names teach us about data analytics

April 6, 2015
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In my latest piece for Harvard Business Review (link), I tackle this common problem in the interactions between data scientists and business managers: A typical big data analysis goes like this: First, a data scientist finds some obscure data accumulating in a server. Next, he or she spends days or weeks slicing and dicing the numbers, eventually stumbling upon some unusual insights. Then, a meeting is organized to present the…

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Yet another popular nutrition headline doesn’t stand up to scrutiny

April 1, 2015
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Yet another popular nutrition headline doesn’t stand up to scrutiny

Are science journalists required to take one good statistics course? That is the question in my head when I read this Science Times article, titled "One Cup of Coffee Could Offset Three Drinks a Day" (link). We are used to seeing rather tenuous conclusions such as "Four Cups of Coffee Reduces Your Risk of X". This headline takes it up another notch. A result is claimed about the substitution effect…

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