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Leonid Schneider writes: I am cell biologist turned science journalist after 13 years in academia. Despite my many years experience as scientist, I shamefully admit to be largely incompetent in statistics. My request to you is as follows:...Show More Summary

Three Homework Problems

We have three simple exercises today to help beginning programmers with their homework; all three exercises have appeared on beginning-programmer forums in the last week: 1) Write a recursive function to find the sum of the first n odd integers. For instance, if n = 2, the first two odd integers are 1 and 3, […]

I’m speaking in Germany today!

Right between Mittagspause and Tagungsabschluss, just how I like it. It’s a methods conference for the German Psychological Society in Jena. Here’s my title and abstract: Applied Bayesian Statistics Bayesian methods allow the smooth combination of information from multiple sources and are associated with open acknowledgement about uncertainty. Show More Summary

Medical decision making under uncertainty

Gur Huberman writes: The following crossed my mind, following a recent panel discussion in which David Madigan participated on evidence-based medicine. The panel—especially John Iaonnidis—sang the praise of clinical trials. You may have nothing wise to say about it—or pose the question to your blog followers. Show More Summary

The aching desire for regular scientific breakthroughs

This post didn’t come out the way I planned. Here’s what happened. I cruised over to the British Psychological Society Research Digest (formerly on our blogroll) and came across a press release entitled “Background positive music increases people’s willingness to do others harm.” Uh oh, I thought. Show More Summary

Even though it’s published in a top psychology journal, she still doesn’t believe it

Nadia Hassan writes: I wanted to ask you about this article. Andrea Meltzer, James McNulty, Saul Miller, and Levi Baker, “A Psychophysiological Mechanism Underlying Women’s Weight-Management Goals Women Desire and Strive for Greater Weight Loss Near Peak Fertility.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (2015): 0146167215585726. Show More Summary

Time Arithmetic

The Standard Prelude provides functions julian and gregorian for performing date arithmetic. In today’s exercise we will extend those functions to provide arithmetic on times as well. The parameters provided to julian will be year, month, day, hour, minute, and second, and the same parameters will be returned by gregorian. Your task is to write […]

Why aren’t people sharing their data and code?

Joe Mienko writes: I made the following post on a couple of hours ago. It is still relatively uncommon for social scientists to share data or code as a part of the peer review process. I feel that this...Show More Summary

Review of The Martian

I actually read this a couple months ago after Bob recommended it to me. I don’t know why I did this, given that the last book Bob recommended to me, I hated, but in this case I made a good choice. The Martian was excellent and was indeed hard to set down. Show More Summary

On deck this week

Mon: Review of The Martian Tues: Even though it’s published in a top psychology journal, she still doesn’t believe it Wed: Turbulent Studies, Rocky Statistics: Publicational Consequences of Experiencing Inferential Instability Thurs:...Show More Summary

Where Does The Spectrum Come From?

A categorical account of the most important invariant of a linear operator.

Register soon for ALGECOM Fall 2015!

Just a quick reminder that, if you are looking for graduate support to attend ALGECOM at the University of Michigan on Saturday October 24, or to register for the poster session, you should please send an e-mail to by Tuesday Sept 15. (Yes, after sunset but before midnight is fine, I won’t be online […]

War, Numbers and Human Losses

That’s the title of Mike Spagat’s new blog. In his most recent post, Spagat disputes the the claim that “at least 240,000 Syrians have died violently since the civil war flared up four years ago.” I am not an expert in this area so I...Show More Summary


Reflecting on the recent psychology replication study (see also here), journalist Megan McArdle writes an excellent column on why we fall for bogus research: The problem is not individual research papers, or even the field of psychology. Show More Summary

Why is this double-y-axis graph not so bad?

Usually I (and other statisticians who think a lot about graphics) can’t stand this sort of graph that overloads the y-axis: But this example from Isabel Scott and Nicholas Pound actually isn’t so bad at all! The left axis should have...Show More Summary

Morals, smorals

I just spent several disappointing minutes on Amazon checking out two books by Pinker and Harris recommended on one of the atheist podcasts I follow, both with theses relating to the development of morals. Unsurpisingly, I found a scathing review of Harris’s book— full disclosure: I really really don’t like the guy, ever since I […]

The Erdos discrepancy problem via the Elliott conjecture

The Chowla conjecture asserts that all non-trivial correlations of the Liouville function are asymptotically negligible; for instance, it asserts that as for any fixed natural number. This conjecture remains open, though there are a number of partial results (e.g. Show More Summary

Being polite vs. saying what we really think

We recently discussed an article by Isabel Scott and Nicholas Pound entitled, “Menstrual Cycle Phase Does Not Predict Political Conservatism,” in which Scott and Pound definitively shot down some research that was so ridiculous it never even deserved the dignity of being shot down. Show More Summary

Finding The Median

The median of an array is the value in the middle if the array was sorted; if the array has an odd number of items n, the median is the (n+1)/2’th largest item in the array (which is also the (n+1)/2’th smallest item in the array), and if the array has an even number of […]

Let’s apply for some of that sweet, sweet National Sanitation Foundation funding

Paul Alper pointed me to this news article about where the bacteria and fungi hang out on airplanes. This is a topic that doesn’t interest me at all, but then I noticed this, at the very end of the article: Note: A previous version of...Show More Summary

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