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Annals of Spam

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I’ve recently been getting a ton of spam—something like 200 messages a day in my inbox! The Columbia people tell me that soon we’ll be switching to a new mail server that will catch most of these, but for now I have to spend a couple minutes every day just going thru and flagging them as spam. Which does basically nothing.

Anyway, most of these are just boring: home improvement ads, quack medicine, search engine optimization, sub-NKVD political fake news, invitations to fake conferences around the world, Wolfram Research employees who claim to have read my papers, etc. But today I got this which had an amusing statistical twist:

Understand how to do a coverage analysis at the Clinical Trial Billing Compliance Boot Camp

Become Clinical Trial Billing Proficient at the Only Hands-On Workshop to Guide You through All of Your Billing Compliance Challenges

Do you want to know the ins and outs of performing a coverage analysis? This year’s Clinical Trial Billing Compliance Boot Camp series will walk you through the process from “qualifying” a trial — to putting actual codes on the billing grid, so translation to the coders can occur. . . . Register today to learn how to do a coverage analysis from soup to nuts! We will help you start a coverage analysis grid that you can take home with you that will help you with your process improvement. . . .

Something about the relentless positivity of their message reminded me of Brian Wansink. Or Amy Cuddy.

I mean, really, why does everyone have to be so negative all the time? So critical? I say, let’s stop trying to check whether the numbers on published papers add up. Let’s just agree that any paper that’s published is always true. Let’s believe everything they tell us on NPR and Ted talks. Let’s just say that everything published in PPNAS is actually science. Let’s accept every submitted paper (as long as it has “p less than .05” somewhere). Let’s tenure everybody! No more party poopers, that’s what I say!


  1. Jonathan says:

    Ironically enough once you posted this I got this study in my RSS feed:

    Note from the abstract:
    “In the context of the behavioral science of eating, we outline the process for recruiting papers and coaching them through the review process so that authors think more precisely about the impact they want to have and think more broadly about how it illustrates a larger impactful theme.”

  2. Robert Grant says:

    From soup to nuts? Is that a thing? Is SOUP a new algorithm I missed out on? Simultaneous Overtested Underconsidered P-values?

  3. jrkrideau says:

    the behavioral science of eating

    Oh for heaven’s sake. If nothing else I am willing to recommend that editorial (advertisement?) for the baffle-gab award of the year.

  4. Andrew, what software do you use for reading your email? I get hundreds of spams a day, but I only see like 3 to 5. I use Thunderbird, and have tuned its spam filter a bit. You and I actually went through this same conversation on this blog back in 2006 or something.

    • In Thunderbird, under preferences -> advanced -> config editor you can search out “mail.adaptivefilters.junk_threshold” and set it to a value between 0 and 100. I use 75 I think the default is 90

      I also use a plugin called JunQuilla which allows you to add a column to the message display to let you see the assigned junk score. I only mark things as junk if they have a score substantially less than 75, you want to train the filter on stuff it really dramatically misclassifies not on stuff it almost got correct.

      With those two things in place, and a couple of junk training clicks per week, you should almost never see any of the junk.

    • Rahul says:

      I used to love Thunderbird but then hit a bunch of bugs circa 2010 where it couldn’t handle my large IMAP single folder Inbox well.

      Do you use TB with gmail? Any idea if it’s smooth? I’m dreading the initial sync with my 10 GB Inbox.

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