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Archive of posts filed under the Uncategorized category.

The New York Times Book of Mathematics

This was an good idea: take a bunch of old (and some recent) news articles on developments in mathematics and related ares from the past hundred years. Fun for the math content and historical/nostalgia value. Relive the four-color theorem, Fermat, fractals, and early computing. I have too much of a technical bent to be the […]

Foundation for Open Access Statistics

Now here’s a foundation I (Bob) can get behind: Foundation for Open Access Statistics (FOAS) Their mission is to “promote free software, open access publishing, and reproducible research in statistics.” To me, that’s like supporting motherhood and apple pie! FOAS spun out of and is partially designed to support the Journal of Statistical Software (aka […]

Subsidized driving

This post is by Phil. This DC Streets Blog post gives a concise summary of a report by “The Tax Foundation”. The money shot is here, a table that shows what fraction spending on roads in each state in the U.S. is covered by local, state, and federal gas taxes, tolls, registration fees, etc. (Click […]

When you SHARE poorly researched infographics…

Understanding regression models and regression coefficients

David Hoaglin writes: After seeing it cited, I just read your paper in Technometrics. The home radon levels provide an interesting and instructive example. I [Hoaglin] have a different take on the difficulty of interpreting the estimated coefficient of the county-level basement proportion (gamma-sub-2) on page 434. An important part of the difficulty involves “other […]

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 […]


This story of a Cindy Sherman impersonator reminded me of some graffiti I saw in a bathroom of the Whitney Museum many years ago. My friend Kenny and I had gone there for the Biennial which had an exhibit featuring Keith Haring and others of the neo-taggers (or whatever they were called). The bathroom walls […]

Richer people continue to vote Republican

From the exit polls: This is all pretty obvious but it seemed worth posting because some people still don’t seem to get it. For example, Jay Cost, writing in the Weekly Standard: The Democratic party now dominates the Upper East Side of Manhattan, as well as the wealthiest neighborhoods in the most powerful cities. And […]

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 […]

Someone is wrong on the internet, part 2

My coblogger John Sides feeds a troll. It’s a tough call. Yesterday I gave my reasoning for ignoring these provocateurs, but in this case the troll in question is writing for a major newspaper so it makes sense for John to go to the trouble of shooting him down. Even though I suspect the columnist […]

The blog is back

We had some security problem: not an actual virus or anything, but a potential leak which caused Google to blacklist us. Cord fixed us and now we’re fine. Good job, Google! Better to find the potential problem before there is any harm!

Social scientists who use medical analogies to explain causal inference are, I think, implicitly trying to borrow some of the scientific and cultural authority of that field for our own purposes

I’m sorry I don’t have any new zombie papers in time for Halloween. Instead I’d like to be a little monster by reproducing a mini-rant from this article on experimental reasoning in social science: I will restrict my discussion to social science examples. Social scientists are often tempted to illustrate their ideas with examples from […]

Health disparities are associated with low life expectancy

Lee Seachrest points to an article, “Life expectancy and disparity: an international comparison of life table data,” by James Vaupel, Zhen Zhang, and Alyson van Raalte. This paper has killer graphs. Here are their results: In 89 of the 170 years from 1840 to 2009, the country with the highest male life expectancy also had […]

My talk at MIT on Thurs 11 Oct

Stan: open-source Bayesian inference Speaker: Andrew Gelman, Columbia University Date: Thursday, October 11 2012 Time: 4:00PM to 5:00PM Location: 32-D507 Host: Polina Golland, CSAIL Contact: Polina Golland, 6172538005, Stan ( is an open-source package for obtaining Bayesian inference using the No-U-Turn sampler, a variant of Hamiltonian Monte Carlo. We discuss how Stan works and […]


Those of you who know what I’m talking about, know what I’m talking about.

Responding to a bizarre anti-social-science screed

Philosophy professor Gary Gutting writes: Public policy debates often involve appeals to results of work in social sciences like economics and sociology. . . . How much authority should we give to such work in our policy decisions? . . . The core natural sciences (e.g., physics, chemistry, biology) are so well established that we […]

The hare, the pineapple, and Ed Wegman

Commenters here are occasionally bothered that I spend so much time attacking frauds and plagiarists. See, for example, here and here. Why go on and on about these losers, given that there are more important problems in the world such as war, pestilence, hunger, and graphs where the y-axis doesn’t go all the way down […]

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┬ácareful 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 […]

Blogging, polemical and otherwise

In a discussion of Paul Krugman and his critics, Noah Smith compares two styles of argumentation: Way #1 is to put your complete thought process on a page – to lay out both sides of an argument, and explain why you arrived at a conclusion. This is what [Tyler] Cowen calls the “Humean” method, after […]