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Archive of posts filed under the Literature category.

Wolfram Markdown, also called Computational Essay

I was reading Stephen Wolfram’s blog and came across this post: People are used to producing prose—and sometimes pictures—to express themselves. But in the modern age of computation, something new has become possible that I’d like to call the computational essay. I [Wolfram] have been working on building the technology to support computational essays for […]

X spotted in L’Aimant, par Lucas Harari

I have a long post in preparation with lots of B.D. reviews, but in the meantime I wanted to flag this one right now because (a) the book was excellent, with a solid story and beautiful art and design, and (b) one of the characters looks just like Christian Robert, in an appropriate mountainous setting. […]

The Manager’s Path (book recommendation for new managers)

I (Bob) was visiting Matt Hoffman (of NUTS fame) at Google in California a few weeks ago, and he recommended the following book: Camille Fournier. 2017. The Manager’s Path. O’Reilly. It’s ordered from being an employee, to being a tech lead, to managing a small team, to managing teams of teams, and I stopped there. […]

David Bellos’s book on translation

Seeing as linguistics is on the agenda, I thought I’d mention this excellent book I just finished, “Is That a Fish in Your Ear,” by David Bellos. Bellos is a translator and scholar of French literature, and in his book he covers all sorts of topics. Nothing deep, but, as a non-expert on the topic, […]

Aki’s favorite scientific books (so far)

A month ago I (Aki) started a series of tweets about “scientific books which have had big influence on me…”. They are partially in time order, but I can’t remember the exact order. I may have forgotten some, and some stretched the original idea, but I can recommend all of them. I have collected all […]

Klam > Ferris

I read Who is Rich and it was excellent so I reread Sam the Cat which was as amazing as I remembered. Sure, it’s basically the same story 7 times in a row, but it’s a good story, very well told. Meanwhile Ferris did the opposite trajectory, first publishing the amazing novel (Then We Came […]

How to read (in quantitative social science). And by implication, how to write.

I happened to come across this classic from 2014. For convenience I’ll just repeat it all here: It all started when I was reading Chris Blattman’s blog and noticed this: One of the most provocative and interesting field experiments I [Blattman] have seen in this year: Poor people often do not make investments, even when […]

Walter Benjamin on storytelling

After we discussed my paper with Thomas Basbøll, “When do stories work? Evidence and illustration in the social sciences,” Jager Hartman wrote to me: Here is a link to the work by Walter Benjamin I think of when I think of storytelling. He uses storytelling throughout his works and critiques done on his works are […]

Anthony West’s literary essays

Awhile ago I picked up a collection of essays by Anthony West, a book called Principles and Persuasions that came out in 1957, was briefly reprinted in 1970, and I expect has been out of print ever since. It’s a wonderful book, one of my favorite collections of literary essays, period. West was a book […]

There’s nothing embarrassing about self-citation

Someone sent me an email writing that one of my papers “has an embarrassing amount of self-citation.” I’m sorry that this person is embarrassed on my behalf. I’m not embarrassed at all. If I wrote something in the past that’s relevant, it makes sense to cite it rather than repeating myself, no? A citation is […]

What is “blogging”? Is it different from “writing”?

Thomas Basbøll wrote: To blog is not to write in a particular style, or publish in a particular form. Rather, blogging is an experience that is structured by a particular functionality. . . . What makes it a blog is a structural coordination of the blogger and the audience. . . . Blogging, in my […]

Trichotomous

Regarding this paper, Frank Harrell writes: One grammatical correction: Alvan Feinstein, the ‘father of clinical epidemiology’ at Yale, educated me about ‘trichotomy’. dichotomous = Greek dicho (two) + tomous (cut). Three = tri so the proper word would be ‘tritomous’ instead of ‘trichotomous’. Uh oh. I can’t bring myself to use the word “tritomous” as […]

“Statistics: Learning from stories” (my talk in Zurich on Tues 28 Aug)

Statistics: Learning from stories Andrew Gelman, Department of Statistics and Department of Political Science, Columbia University, New York Here is a paradox: In statistics we aim for representative samples and balanced comparisons, but stories are interesting to the extent that they are surprising and atypical. The resolution of the paradox is that stories can be […]

Hey! Free money!

This just came in: On Dec 27, 2017, at 6:55 PM, **@gmail.com wrote: My name is ** and I am a freelance writer hoping to contribute my writing to andrewgelman.com. I would be willing to compensate you for publishing. For my posts, I require one related client link within the body of my article, as […]

Last lines of George V. Higgins

Wonderful Years, Wonderful Years ends with this beautiful quote: “Everybody gets just about what they want. It’s just, they don’t recognize it, they get it. It doesn’t look the same as what they had in mind.” The conclusion of Trust: “What ever doesn’t kill us, makes us strong,” Cobb said. “Fuck Nietzsche,” Beale said. “He’s […]

Murray Davis on learning from stories

Jay Livingston writes: Your recent post and the linked article on storytelling reminded me of Murray Davis’s article on theory, which has some of the same themes. I haven’t reread it in a long time, so my memory of the details is hazy. Here are the first two paragraphs, which might give you an idea […]

Concerns about Brian Wansink’s claims and research methods have been known for years

1. The king and his memory There’s this stunning passage near the end of Josephine Tey’s classic The Daughter of Time. Most of the book is taken up with the main characters laboriously discovering the evidence that Richard III was not really a bad guy, he didn’t really kill those little princes, etc. Having made […]

“Write No Matter What” . . . about what?

Scott Jaschik interviews Joli Jensen (link from Tyler Cowen), a professor of communication who wrote a new book called “Write No Matter What: Advice for Academics.” Her advice might well be reasonable—it’s hard for me to judge; as someone who blogs a few hundred times a year, I’m not really part of Jensen’s target audience. […]

Return of the Klam

Matthew Klam is back. This time for reals. I’m halfway through reading his new book, Who is Rich?, and it’s just wonderful. The main character is a cartoonist and illustrator, and just about every scene is filled with stunning and hilarious physical descriptions. If I were writing a blurb, I’d call Who is Rich? the […]

Geoff Norman: Is science a special kind of storytelling?

Javier Benítez points to this article by epidemiologist Geoff Norman, who writes: The nature of science was summarized beautifully by a Stanford professor of science education, Mary Budd Rowe, who said that: Science is a special kind of story-telling with no right or wrong answers. Just better and better stories. Benítez writes that he doesn’t […]