Posts Tagged ‘ science ’

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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The TES Challenge to Greg Francis

March 29, 2015
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This post is a follow-up to my previous post, “Statistical alchemy and the 'test for excess significance'”. In the comments on that post, Greg Francis objected to my points about the Test for Excess Significance. I laid out a challenge in which I would use simulation to demonstrate these points. Greg Francis agreed to the details; this post is about the results of the simulations (with links to the code,…

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Two things to stop saying about null hypotheses

March 28, 2015
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Two things to stop saying about null hypotheses

There is a currently fashionable way of describing Bayes factors that resonates with experimental psychologists. I hear it often, particularly as a way to describe a particular use of Bayes factors. For example, one might say, “I needed to prove the null, so I used a Bayes factor,” or “Bayes factors are great because with them, you can prove the null.” I understand the motivation behind this sort of language…

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