Monthly Archives: January 2011

Acupuncture and confirmation bias

Here’s another excerpt from The decline effect and the scientific method that I wrote about a couple weeks ago. Between 1966 and 1995, there were forty-seven studies of acupuncture in China, Taiwan, and Japan, and every single trial concluded that

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A motivational speaker with integrity

I wonder how many motivational speakers live out their own advice. Of those who do,  how many will continue to live out their advice as they raise a family? How many will continue to walk their talk into old age?

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Weekend miscellany

Windows Microsoft gives jailbreakers schwag IronPython-based data/science environment Unix Unix as literature Computer science Nature-inspired algorithms Functional and imperative OOP Math Breakthrough in partition theory: paper, lecture Measure theory notes from Terry Tao Statistics Power law distributions in empirical data

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Pilots and pair programming

From Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell: In commercial airlines, captains and first officers split the flying duties equally. But historically, crashes have been far more likely to happen when the captain is in the “flying seat.” At first this seems to

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Posted in Software development

When it works, it works really well

Stephen Stigler [1] compares least-squares methods to the iPhone: In the United States many consumers are entranced by the magic of the new iPhone, even though they can only use it with the AT&T system, a system noted for spotty

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Posted in Business, Statistics

Python-based data/science environment from Microsoft

See Microsoft Research’s announcement of the the Sho project. Sho is an interactive environment for data analysis and scientific computing that lets you seamlessly connect scripts (in IronPython) with compiled code (in .NET) to enable fast and flexible prototyping. The

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Coming full circle

Experts often end up where they started as beginners. If you’ve never seen the word valet, you might pronounce it like VAL-it. If you realize the word has a French origin, you would pronounce it val-A. But the preferred pronunciation

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More theoretical power, less real power

Suppose you’re deciding between two statistical methods. You pick the one that has more power. This increases your chances of making a correct decision in theory while possibly lowering your chances of actually concluding the truth. The subtle trap is

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Pseudo-commons and anti-commons

Here are a couple variations on the tragedy of the commons, the idea that shared resources can be exhausted by people acting in their individual best interests. The first is a recent podcast by Thomas Gideon discussing the possibility of

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Which Platonic solid best fills a sphere?

Which of the five Platonic solids takes up the most volume when inscribed in a sphere? The answer may surprise you. See Pat’s Blog.

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Weekend miscellany

Public key cryptography before Diffie, Hellman, and Merkle New lighthouse in Washington Reflections on Eisenhower’s farewell address 30 Years of BAD Pictures from Bruce Dale on Vimeo.

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Efficiency of regular expressions

I’ve never optimized a regular expression.  I typically use regular expressions in scripts where efficiency doesn’t matter. And sometimes I do some regular expression processing as part of a larger program in which the bottleneck is somewhere else. But I’ve

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A couple preprints

Here are a couple new preprints. Block-adaptive randomization. A proposed method for limiting the size of runs in a response-adaptive clinical trial. Skeptical and optimistic robust priors for clinical trials. Joint work with Jairo Fúquene and Luis Pericchi from University

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Posted in Clinical trials, Statistics

Fitting an elephant

“With four parameters I can fit an elephant, and with five I can make him wiggle his trunk.” — John von Neumann Related post: Occam’s razor and Bayes’ theorem

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Hanlon's razor and corporations

Hanlon’s razor says Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. At first it seems just an amusing little aphorism, something you might read on a bumper sticker, but I believe it’s profound. It’s a guide to

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