Posts Tagged ‘ science ’

Another example of misleading time-based correlation

December 15, 2014
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Another example of misleading time-based correlation

On my sister blog last week, I wrote about how to screw up a column chart. The chart designer apparently wanted to explore whether Rotten Tomato Scores are correlated with box office success, and whether the running time of a movie is correlated with box office success. In either case, the set of movies is a small one, those directed by Chris Nolan. Here is a better view of the…

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How to face the mid-life crisis in A/B Testing

December 10, 2014
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There have been few updates as I was working on things for other people. One of these things showed up today. Here is an excerpt from the beginning of my new article on HBR: For over 10 years and at three companies, I set up and ran A/B testing programs, in which we test a new offer with half a sample against a control group which doesn’t get a new…

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Light entertainment: fruits in space

December 1, 2014
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Light entertainment: fruits in space

Amusing. Another example of multiple scales, discussed here. (via Gelman)

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Gelman explains why massive sample sizes to chase after tiny effects is silly

November 21, 2014
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What a lucky day I found time to catch up on some Gelman. He posted about the Facebook research ethics controversy, and I'm glad to see that he and I have pretty much the same attitude (my earlier post is here.). It's a storm in a teacup. Gelman makes two other points about the Facebook study--unrelated to the ethics--which are very important. First, he said: if we happen to see…

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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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I can’t believe I’m citing David Brooks on data

November 6, 2014
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This is a first. I'm agreeing with David Brooks. Sort of. In his new NYT column titled "Death by Data" (link), Brooks disparaged the recently celebrated practice of using machine learning in electoral politics, such as trying to win elections "Obama-style" by targeting investments on the people most likely to listen to his message, and trying to craft electoral messages by testing and measuring how people react to certain words…

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How a fraud detection algorithm conspired to ruin my recent trip

October 30, 2014
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I have been traveling quite a bit lately, and last week, I went to Rome for a few days, and spent time at the KDIR conference. Rome is one of my favorite destinations and apart from the architecture and museums, and the restaurants, I also enjoy shopping there. To my dismay, a gray cloud followed me around this entire trip - in the form of a misfiring fraud detection algorithm.…

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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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Experts clinging on to their predictions

October 7, 2014
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Andrew Gelman touches on one of my favorite topics: prediction accuracy, and experts who cling to their predictions. Here's Andrew at the Monkey Cage blog. His starting point is a piece by sociologist Jay Livingston on how various well-known economists made vague predictions (e.g. "I see inflation around the corner") and kept clinging to them (eventually, there will be inflation). Several theories are given to explain this behavior. One is…

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A patently pointless picture

October 3, 2014
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A patently pointless picture

I am mystified by the intention behind this chart, published in NYT Magazine (Sept 14, 2014). It is not a data visualization since the circles were not placed to scale. The 650 and 660 should have been further to the...

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