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We go to war with the data we have, not the data we want

This post is by Phil. Psychologists perform experiments on Canadian undergraduate psychology students and draws conclusions that (they believe) apply to humans in general; they publish in Science. A drug company decides to embark on additional trials that will cost tens of millions of dollars based on the results of a careful double-blind study….whose patients are […]

Help with this problem, win valuable prizes

                This post is by Phil. In the comments to an earlier post, I mentioned a problem I am struggling with right now. Several people mentioned having (and solving!) similar problems in the past, so this seems like a great way for me and a bunch of other […]

The more likely it is to be X, the more likely it is to be Not X?

This post is by Phil Price. A paper by Wood, Douglas, and Sutton looks at “Beliefs in Contradictory Conspiracy Theories.”  Unfortunately the  subjects were 140 undergraduate psychology students, so one wonders how general the results are.  I found this sort of arresting: In Study 1 (n=137), the more participants believed that Princess Diana faked her […]

Benford’s Law suggests lots of financial fraud

This post is by Phil. I love this post by Jialan Wang. Wang “downloaded quarterly accounting data for all firms in Compustat, the most widely-used dataset in corporate finance that contains data on over 20,000 firms from SEC filings” and looked at the statistical distribution of leading digits in various pieces of financial information. As […]

Another day, another stats postdoc

This post is from Phil Price.  I work in the Environmental Energy Technologies Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and I am looking for a postdoc who knows substantially more than I do about time-series modeling; in practice this probably means someone whose dissertation work involved that sort of thing.  The work involves developing models […]

Even a good data display can sometimes be improved

When I first saw this graphic, I thought “boy, that’s great, sometimes the graphic practically makes itself.” Normally it’s hard to use lots of different colors to differentiate items of interest, because there’s usually not an intuitive mapping between color and item (e.g. for countries, or states, or whatever). But the colors of crayons, what […]

Censoring on one end, “outliers” on the other, what can we do with the middle?

This post was written by Phil. A medical company is testing a cancer drug. They get a 16 genetically identical (or nearly identical) rats that all have the same kind of tumor, give 8 of them the drug and leave 8 untreated…or maybe they give them a placebo, I don’t know; is there a placebo […]

How the ignorant idiots win, explained. Maybe.

According to a New York Times article, cognitive scientists Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber have a new theory about rational argument: humans didn’t develop it in order to learn about the world, we developed it in order to win arguments with other people. “It was a purely social phenomenon. It evolved to help us convince […]

Improvement of 5 MPG: how many more auto deaths?

This entry was posted by Phil Price. A colleague is looking at data on car (and SUV and light truck) collisions and casualties. He’s interested in causal relationships. For instance, suppose car manufacturers try to improve gas mileage without decreasing acceleration. The most likely way they will do that is to make cars lighter. But […]

Worst statistical graphic I have seen this year

This gets my vote for the worst statistical graphic I (Phil) have seen this year. If you’ve got a worse one, put a link in the comments. “Credit” for this one goes to “Peter and Maria Hoey (Source: Tommy McCall/Environmental Law Institute).”