This post is by Phil. It is not by Andrew. I’m halfway through my third year as a consultant, after 25 years at a government research lab, and I just had a miserable five weeks finishing a project. The end product was fine — actually really good — but the process was horrible and I […]

## An obvious fact about constrained systems.

This post is not by Andrew. This post is by Phil. This post is prompted by Andrew’s recent post about the book “Everything is obvious once you know the answer,” together with a recent discussion I’ve been involved in. I’m going to say something obvious. True story: earlier this year I was walking around […]

## NIMBYs and economic theories: Sorry / Not Sorry

This post is not by Andrew. This post is by Phil. A few days ago I posted What’s the deal with the YIMBYs? In the rest of this post, I assume you have read that one. I plan to post a follow-up in a month or two when I have had time to learn more, […]

## What’s the deal with the YIMBYs?

This post is not by Andrew. It is by Phil. There’s at least one thing people in San Francisco seem to agree on: the rent is too damn high. The median rent is between about $3000 and $3500 per month…for a one-bedroom apartment. High-tech workers and upper-echelon businesspeople can afford a place, but baristas and […]

## How can time series information be used to choose a control group?

This post is by Phil Price, not Andrew. Before I get to my question, you need some background. The amount of electricity that is provided by an electric utility at a given time is called the “electric load”, and the time series of electric load is called the “load shape.” Figure 1 (which is labeled […]

## Numbers too good to be true? Or: Thanks, Obama!?

This post is by Phil. The “Affordable Care Act” a.k.a. “Obamacare” was passed in 2010, with its various pieces coming into play over the following few years. One of those pieces is penalties for hospitals that see high readmission rates. The theory here, or at least one of the theories here, was that hospitals could […]

## Le Menu Dit : a translation app

This post is by Phil Price. “Le Menu Dit” is an iPhone app that some friends and I wrote, which translates restaurant menus from English into French. (The name is French for “The Menu Says.”) The friends are Nathan Addy and another excellent programmer who would like to remain nameless for now. Here’s how the […]

## Cancer statistics: WTF?

This post is by Phil. I know someone who was recently diagnosed with lung cancer and is trying to decide whether to get chemo or just let it run its course. What does she have to go on? A bunch of statistics that are barely useful. For example, its easy to find the average survival […]

## Guys, we need to talk. (Houston, we have a problem).

This post is by Phil Price. I’m posting it on Andrew’s blog without knowing exactly where he stands on this so it’s especially important for readers to note that this post is NOT BY ANDREW! Last week a prominent scientist, representing his entire team of researchers, appeared in widely distributed television interviews wearing a shirt […]

## Statistical distribution of incomes in different countries, and a great plot

This post is by Phil Price. This article in the New York Times is pretty good, and the graphics are excellent…especially the interactive graphic halfway down, entitled “American Incomes Are Losing Their Edge, Except at the Top” (try mousing over the gray lines and see what happens). The plot attempts to display the statistical distribution […]

## Shamer shaming

This post is by Phil Price. I can’t recall when I first saw “shaming” used in its currently popular sense. I remember noting “slut shaming” and “fat shaming” but did they first become popular two years ago? Three? At any rate, “shaming” is now everywhere…and evidently it’s a very bad thing. When I first saw […]

## One of the worst infographics ever, but people don’t care?

This post is by Phil Price. Perhaps prompted by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, this infographic has been making the rounds: I think this is one of the worst I have ever seen. I don’t know where it came from, so I can’t give credit/blame where it’s due. Let’s put aside the numbers themselves – […]

## As if we needed another example of lying with statistics and not issuing a correction: bike-share injuries

This post is by Phil Price A Washington Post article says “In the first study of its kind, researchers from Washington State University and elsewhere found a 14 percent greater risk of head injuries to cyclists associated with cities that have bike share programs. In fact, when they compared raw head injury data for cyclists […]

## If you have a 45% chance of winning, is it “yours to lose”?

Nate Silver gives Brazil a 45% chance of winning the World Cup, with only Argentina and Germany having more than a 10% chance. My gut feeling is that that’s a bit high, but I’m no expert. What I find striking, though, is that the headline says it’s “Brazil’s to lose.” Huh? If we take Silver’s […]

## plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

This post is by Phil, and I’m writing about the slow pace of change in 21st-century America. [Note added later: at the time that I wrote this, I was unaware that a year-and-a-half ago Andrew had written a similar post on the theme. I suspect I, and perhaps most of this blog’s readers, missed it […]

## Everything I need to know about Bayesian statistics, I learned in eight schools.

This post is by Phil. I’m aware that there are some people who use a Bayesian approach largely because it allows them to provide a highly informative prior distribution based subjective judgment, but that is not the appeal of Bayesian methods for a lot of us practitioners. It’s disappointing and surprising, twenty years after my initial experiences, […]

## You heard it here first: Intense exercise can suppress appetite

This post is by Phil Price. The New York Times recently ran an article entitled “How Exercise Can Help Us Eat Less,” which begins with this: “Strenuous exercise seems to dull the urge to eat afterward better than gentler workouts, several new studies show, adding to a growing body of science suggesting that intense exercise […]

## There are no fat sprinters

This post is by Phil. A little over three years ago I wrote a post about exercise and weight loss in which I described losing a fair amount of weight due to (I believe) an exercise regime, with no effort to change my diet; this contradicted the prediction of studies that had recently been released. […]

## The Great Race

This post is by Phil. Last summer my wife and I took a 3.5-month vacation that included a wide range of activities. When I got back, people would ask “what were the highlights or your trip?”, and I was somewhat at a loss: we had done so many things that were so different, many of […]

## Data problems, coding errors…what can be done?

This post is by Phil A recent post on this blog discusses a prominent case of an Excel error leading to substantially wrong results from a statistical analysis. Excel is notorious for this because it is easy to add a row or column of data (or intermediate results) but forget to update equations so that […]