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Archive of posts filed under the Teaching category.

Should computer programming be a prerequisite for learning statistics?

[cat picture] This came up in a recent discussion thread, I can’t remember exactly where. A commenter pointed out, correctly, that you shouldn’t require computer programming as a prerequisite for a statistics course: there’s lots in statistics that can be learned without knowing how to program. Sure, if you can program you can do a […]

“P-hacking” and the intention-to-cheat effect

I’m a big fan of the work of Uri Simonsohn and his collaborators, but I don’t like the term “p-hacking” because it can be taken to imply an intention to cheat. The image of p-hacking is of a researcher trying test after test on the data until reaching the magic “p less than .05.” But, […]

Stan without frontiers, Bayes without tears

[cat picture] This recent comment thread reminds me of a question that comes up from time to time, which is how to teach Bayesian statistics to students who aren’t comfortable with calculus. For continuous models, probabilities are integrals. And in just about every example except the one at 47:16 of this video, there are multiple […]

Teaching Statistics: A Bag of Tricks (second edition)

Hey! Deb Nolan and I finished the second edition of our book, Teaching Statistics: A Bag of Tricks. You can pre-order it here. I love love love this book. As William Goldman would say, it’s the “good parts version”: all the fun stuff without the standard boring examples (counting colors of M&M’s, etc.). Great stuff […]

Mmore from Ppnas

Kevin Lewis asks for my take on two new papers: Study 1: Honesty plays a key role in social and economic interactions and is crucial for societal functioning. However, breaches of honesty are pervasive and cause significant societal and economic problems that can affect entire nations. Despite its importance, remarkably little is known about the […]

My interview on EconTalk, and some other podcasts and videos

[cat picture] Russ Roberts recently interviewed me for his EconTalk podcast. We talked about social science and the garden of forking paths. Roberts was also going to talk with me about Case and Deaton, but we ran out of time. Whenever I announce a talk, people ask in comments if it will be streamed or […]

Some natural solutions to the p-value communication problem—and why they won’t work

Blake McShane and David Gal recently wrote two articles (“Blinding us to the obvious? The effect of statistical training on the evaluation of evidence” and “Statistical significance and the dichotomization of evidence”) on the misunderstandings of p-values that are common even among supposed experts in statistics and applied social research. The key misconception has nothing […]

Ensemble Methods are Doomed to Fail in High Dimensions

Ensemble methods [cat picture] By ensemble methods, I (Bob, not Andrew) mean approaches that scatter points in parameter space and then make moves by inteprolating or extrapolating among subsets of them. Two prominent examples are: Ter Braak’s differential evolution   Goodman and Weare’s walkers There are extensions and computer implementations of these algorithms. For example, […]

How to interpret confidence intervals?

Jason Yamada-Hanff writes: I’m a Neuroscience PhD reforming my statistics education. I am a little confused about how you treat confidence intervals in the book and was hoping you could clear things up for me. Through your blog, I found Richard Morey’s paper (and further readings) about confidence interval interpretations. If I understand correctly, the […]

I’m Niall Ferguson without the money

image Somehow I agreed or volunteered to give 6 talks on different topics to different audiences during a two-week period. Maybe I need to use Google calendar with some sort of spacing feature. Giving talks is fun, and it’s a public service, but this is ridiculous.

Improv

I like this new thing of lecturing improv. I feel that it helps the audience stay focused, as they have to keep the structure of the talk in their heads while it’s happening. Also it enforces more logic in my own presentation, as I’m continually looping back to remind myself and the audience how each […]

He wants to know what book to read to learn statistics

Tim Gilmour writes: I’m an early 40s guy in Los Angeles, and I’m sort of sending myself back to school, specifically in statistics — not taking classes, just working through things on my own. Though I haven’t really used math much since undergrad, a number of my personal interests (primarily epistemology) would be much better […]

ComSciCon: Science Communication Workshop for Graduate Students

Nathan Sanders writes:

Aaron Kaufman reviews Luke Heaton’s “A Brief History of Mathematical Thought”

I got this book in the mail. It looked cool but I didn’t feel I had time to read it. A few decades ago I read this wonderful book by Morris Kline, “Mathematics: The Loss of Certainty,” so I figured I’d have a sense of what most of Heaton’s new book would cover. I would’ve […]

Long Shot

Frank Harrell doesn’t like p-values: In my [Frank’s] opinion, null hypothesis testing and p-values have done significant harm to science. The purpose of this note is to catalog the many problems caused by p-values. As readers post new problems in their comments, more will be incorporated into the list, so this is a work in […]

We fiddle while Rome burns: p-value edition

Raghu Parthasarathy presents a wonderfully clear example of disastrous p-value-based reasoning that he saw in a conference presentation. Here’s Raghu: Consider, for example, some tumorous cells that we can treat with drugs 1 and 2, either alone or in combination. We can make measurements of growth under our various drug treatment conditions. Suppose our measurements […]

Two unrelated topics in one post: (1) Teaching useful algebra classes, and (2) doing more careful psychological measurements

Kevin Lewis and Paul Alper send me so much material, I think they need their own blogs. In the meantime, I keep posting the stuff they send me, as part of my desperate effort to empty my inbox. 1. From Lewis: “Should Students Assessed as Needing Remedial Mathematics Take College-Level Quantitative Courses Instead? A Randomized […]

Hark, hark! the p-value at heaven’s gate sings

Three different people pointed me to this post, in which food researcher and business school professor Brian Wansink advises Ph.D. students to “never say no”: When a research idea comes up, check it out, put some time into it and you might get some success. I like that advice and I agree with it. Or, […]

Avoiding only the shadow knowing the motivating problem of a post.

Given I am starting to make some posts to this blog (again) I was pleased to run across a youtube of Xiao-Li Meng being interviewed on the same topic by Suzanne Smith the Director of the Center for Writing and Communicating Ideas. One thing I picked up was to make the problem being addressed in […]

“Dear Major Textbook Publisher”: A Rant

Dear Major Academic Publisher, You just sent me, unsolicited, an introductory statistics textbook that is 800 pages and weighs about 5 pounds. It’s the 3rd edition of a book by someone I’ve never heard of. That’s fine—a newcomer can write a good book. The real problem is that the book is crap. It’s just the […]