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When you believe in things that you don’t understand

This would make Karl Popper cry. And, at the very end: The present results indicate that under certain, theoretically predictable circumstances, female ovulation—long assumed to be hidden—is in fact associated with a distinct, objectively observable behavioral display. This statement is correct—if you interpret the word “predictable” to mean “predictable after looking at your data.” P.S. […]

Transitioning to Stan

Kevin Cartier writes: I’ve been happily using R for a number of years now and recently came across Stan. Looks big and powerful, so I’d like to pick an appropriate project and try it out. I wondered if you could point me to a link or document that goes into the motivation for this tool […]

On deck this week

Mon: Transitioning to Stan Tues: When you believe in things that you don’t understand Wed: Looking for Bayesian expertise in India, for the purpose of analysis of sarcoma trials Thurs: If you get to the point of asking, just do it. But some difficulties do arise . . . Fri: One-tailed or two-tailed? Sat: Index […]

“If you are primarily motivated to make money, you . . . certainly don’t want to let people know how confused you are by something, or how shallow your knowledge is in certain areas. You want to project an image of mastery and omniscience.”

A reader writes in: This op-ed made me think of one your recent posts. Money quote: If you are primarily motivated to make money, you just need to get as much information as you need to do your job. You don’t have time for deep dives into abstract matters. You certainly don’t want to let […]

“Schools of statistical thoughts are sometimes jokingly likened to religions. This analogy is not perfect—unlike religions, statistical methods have no supernatural content and make essentially no demands on our personal lives. Looking at the comparison from the other direction, it is possible to be agnostic, atheistic, or simply live one’s life without religion, but it is not really possible to do statistics without some philosophy.”

This bit is perhaps worth saying again, especially given the occasional trolling on the internet by people who disparage their ideological opponents by calling them “religious” . . . So here it is: Sometimes the choice of statistical philosophy is decided by convention or convenience. . . . In many settings, however, we have freedom […]

“More research from the lunatic fringe”

A linguist send me an email with the above title and a link to a paper, “The Effect of Language on Economic Behavior: Evidence from Savings Rates, Health Behaviors, and Retirement Assets,” by M. Keith Chen, which begins: Languages differ widely in the ways they encode time. I test the hypothesis that languages that grammatically […]

Small multiples of lineplots > maps (ok, not always, but yes in this case)

Kaiser Fung shares this graph from Ritchie King: Kaiser writes: What they did right: – Did not put the data on a map – Ordered the countries by the most recent data point rather than alphabetically – Scale labels are found only on outer edge of the chart area, rather than one set per panel […]

Advice: positive-sum, zero-sum, or negative-sum

There’s a lot of free advice out there. I offer some of it myself! As I’ve written before (see this post from 2008 reacting to this advice from Dan Goldstein for business school students, and this post from 2010 reacting to some general advice from Nassim Taleb), what we see is typically presented as advice […]

Understanding Simpson’s paradox using a graph

Joshua Vogelstein pointed me to this post by Michael Nielsen on how to teach Simpson’s paradox. I don’t know if Nielsen (and others) are aware that people have developed some snappy graphical methods for displaying Simpson’s paradox (and, more generally, aggregation issues). We do some this in our Red State Blue State book, but before […]

How literature is like statistical reasoning: Kosara on stories. Gelman and Basbøll on stories.

In “Story: A Definition,” visual analysis researcher Robert Kosara writes: A story ties facts together. There is a reason why this particular collection of facts is in this story, and the story gives you that reason. provides a narrative path through those facts. In other words, it guides the viewer/reader through the world, rather than just throwing […]