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Back when 50 miles was a long way

This post is by Phil. Michael Graham Richard has posted some great maps from the 1932 Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States; the maps show how long it took to get to various places in the U.S. from New York City in 1800, 1830, 1857, and 1930. (I wonder if the atlas […]

Write This Book

This post is by Phil Price. I’ve been preparing a review of a new statistics textbook aimed at students and practitioners in the “physical sciences,” as distinct from the social sciences and also distinct from people who intend to take more statistics courses. I figured that since it’s been years since I looked at an intro […]

How to Lie With Statistics example number 12,498,122

This post is by Phil Price. Bill Kristol notes that “Four presidents in the last century have won more than 51 percent of the vote twice: Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Reagan and Obama”. I’m not sure why Kristol, a conservative, is promoting the idea that Obama has a mandate, but that’s up to him. I’m more interested […]

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 […]