Following on our recent discussion of contradictory findings on happiness, David Austin writes: A pellucid discussion of happiness and happiness research is Fred Feldman, What is This Thing Called Happiness? (Oxford University Press, 2010). And here’s Feldman’s summary of his book.
A few months ago we reported on a claim that more babies are born on Valentine’s Day and fewer on Halloween. At the time, I wrote that I’d like to see a graph with all 366 days of the year. It would be easy enough to make. That way we could put the Valentine’s and [...]
I’ve always thought it looked strange to see people referred to in print as Black or White rather than black or white. For example consider this sentence: “A black guy was walking down the street and he saw a bunch of white guys standing around.” That looks fine, whereas “A Black guy was walking down [...]
I was flipping through the paper and noticed an opinion piece by linguist and science writer Rik Smits, “Lefties aren’t special after all”: Few truly insignificant traits receive as much attention as left-handedness. In just the last couple of generations, an orientation once associated with menace has become associated with leadership, creativity, even athletic prowess. [...]
I saw an analysis recently that I didn’t like. I won’t go into the details, but basically it was a dose-response inference, where a continuous exposure was binned into three broad categories (terciles of the data) and the probability of an adverse event was computed for each tercile. The effect and the sample size was [...]
Upon reading this, Susan remarked, “Don’t you think it’s interesting that a guy who promotes smoking has a last name of ‘Huff’? Reminds me of the Dennis/Dentist studies.” Good point. P.S. As discussed in the linked thread, the great statistician R. A. Fisher was notorious for minimizing the risks of smoking. How does this connect [...]
Via Yalda Afshar, a 2005 paper by Hans-Hermann Dubben and Hans-Peter Beck-Bornholdt: Publication bias is a well known phenomenon in clinical literature, in which positive results have a better chance of being published, are published earlier, and are published in journals with higher impact factors. Conclusions exclusively based on published studies, therefore, can be misleading. [...]
Cassie Murdoch points to a report from a corporate survey: Sixty-two percent of U.S. employees say it’s not likely they or a family member will be diagnosed with a serious illness like cancer, a survey indicates. The Aflac WorkForces Report, a survey of nearly 1,900 benefits decision-makers and more than 6,100 U.S. workers, also indicated [...]
“How to Lie with Statistics” guy worked for the tobacco industry to mock studies of the risks of smoking statistics
Remember How to Lie With Statistics? It turns out that the author worked for the cigarette companies. John Mashey points to this, from Robert Proctor’s book, “Golden Holocaust: Origins of the Cigarette Catastrophe and the Case for Abolition”: Darrell Huff, author of the wildly popular (and aptly named) How to Lie With Statistics, was paid [...]
Chris Said points us to two proposals to fix the system for reviewing scientific papers. Both the proposals are focused on biological research. Said writes:
Question of the week: Will the authors of a controversial new study apologize to busy statistician Don Berry for wasting his time reading and responding to their flawed article?
Aaron Carroll shoots down a politically-loaded claim about cancer survival. Lots of useful background from science reporter Sharon Begley: With the United States spending more on healthcare than any other country — $2.5 trillion, or just over $8,000 per capita, in 2009 — the question has long been, is it worth it? At least for [...]
Someone pointed me to this forthcoming article in the journal Nutrition by J. F. Lee et al. It looks pretty cool. I’m glad that someone went to the effort of performing this careful study. Regular readers will know that I’ve been waiting for this one for awhile. In case you can’t read the article through [...]
When I posted this link to Dean Foster’s rants, some commenters pointed out this linked claim by famed statistician/provacateur Bjorn Lomberg: If [writes Lomborg] you reduce your child’s intake of fruits and vegetables by just 0.03 grams a day (that’s the equivalent of half a grain of rice) when you opt for more expensive organic [...]
One of the key insights of game theory is to solve problems in reverse time order. You first figure out what you would do in the endgame, then decide a middle-game strategy to get you where you want to be at the end, then you choose an opening that will take you on your desired [...]
Robert Zubrin writes in “How Much Is an Astronaut’s Life Worth?” (Reason, Feb 2012): …policy analyst John D. Graham and his colleagues at the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis found in 1997 that the median cost for lifesaving expenditures and regulations by the U.S. government in the health care, residential, transportation, and occupational areas ranges [...]
Chris Schmid is a statistician at New England Medical Center who is an expert on evidence-based medicine. I invited him to present an introductory overview lecture on the topic at last year’s Joint Statistical Meetings, and here are his slides. All 123 of them. I don’t know how he expected to go though all of [...]
Robin Hanson writes: On the criteria of potential to help people avoid death, this would seem to be among the most important news I’ve ever heard.
A colleague writes: When I was in NYC I went to this party by group of Japanese bio-scientists. There, one guy told me about how the biggest pharmaceutical company in Japan did their statistics. They ran 100 different tests and reported the most significant one. (This was in 2006 and he said they stopped doing [...]
Looking at many comparisons may increase the risk of finding something statistically significant by epidemiologists, a population with relatively low multilevel modeling consumption
To understand the above title, see here. Masanao writes: This report claims that eating meat increases the risk of cancer. I’m sure you can’t read the page but you probably can understand the graphs. Different bars represent subdivision in the amount of the particular type of meat one consumes. And each chunk is different types [...]
James Fowler and Mark Pletcher write: Please sign up for our new study. And tell all your friends about it. Our goal is to get one million people to donate their data to science. It takes about 10 minutes to sign up, and everyone 18 and over with an internet account is eligible. Plus, once [...]
Discussion by a panel of experts at the Statistics Forum.
1. Freakonomics characterizes drunk driving as an example of “the human tendency to worry about rare problems that are unlikely to happen.” 2. The CDC reports, “Alcohol-impaired drivers are involved in about 1 in 3 crash deaths, resulting in nearly 11,000 deaths in 2009.” No offense to the tenured faculty at the University of Chicago, [...]
Sally Murray from Giving What We Can writes: We are an organisation that assesses different charitable (/fundable) interventions, to estimate which are the most cost-effective (measured in terms of the improvement of life for people in developing countries gained for every dollar invested). Our research guides and encourages greater donations to the most cost-effective charities [...]
Interesting discussion from David Gorski (which I found via this link from Joseph Delaney). I don’t have anything really to add to this discussion except to note the value of this sort of anecdote in a statistics discussion. It’s only n=1 and adds almost nothing to the literature on the effectiveness of various treatments, but [...]
GiveWell sez: Cost-effectiveness of de-worming was overstated by a factor of 100 (!) due to a series of sloppy calculations
Alexander at GiveWell writes: The Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries (DCP2), a major report funded by the Gates Foundation . . . provides an estimate of $3.41 per disability-adjusted life-year (DALY) for the cost-effectiveness of soil-transmitted-helminth (STH) treatment, implying that STH treatment is one of the most cost-effective interventions for global health. In investigating [...]