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“Everybody Lies” by Seth Stevens-Davidowitz

Seth Stevens-Davidowitz sent me his new book on learning from data. As is just about always the case for this sort of book, I’m a natural reviewer but I’m not really the intended audience. That’s why I gave Dan Ariely’s book to JuliShow More Summary

Study investigates collapse of natural or social systems

(Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo) A tipping point is a critical threshold at which a dynamical system undergoes an irreversible transformation, typically owing to a small change in inputs or parameters. A numerical...Show More Summary

Researchers use Twitter to track the flu in real time

(Northeastern University) An international team led by Northeastern University Prof. Alessandro Vespignani has developed a unique computational model to project the spread of the seasonal flu in real time. It uses posts on Twitter in...Show More Summary

Honesty and transparency are not enough

[cat picture] From a recent article, Honesty and transparency are not enough: This point... is important for two reasons. First, consider the practical consequences for a researcher who eagerly accepts the message of ethical and practical values of sharing and openness, but does not learn about the importance of data quality. Show More Summary

“An anonymous tip”

[cat picture] I and a couple others received the following bizarre email: ’s research is just the tip of the iceberg. If you want to expose more serious flaws, look at research by his co-authors – at and at . I won’t be checking this disposable e-mail address again. Show More Summary

Riddle me this

[cat picture] Paul Alper writes: From Susan Perry’s article based on Paul Hacker’s BMJ article: In 2015, the...Show More Summary

What’s the difference between the French and U.S. presidential elections? Political parties.

Consider a national election with the following four major candidates, from right to left: – Populist far-right nativist – Religious conservative – Center-left technocrat – Populist anti-corporate leftist In the first round of the 2017 French presidential election, these four candidates received 21%, 20%, 24%, and 20%, respectively. Show More Summary

Discussion with Lee Jussim and Simine Vazire on eminence, junk science, and blind reviewing

Lee Jussim pointed me to the recent article in Psychological Science by Joseph Simmons and Uri Simonsohn, expanding on their blog post on flaws in the notorious power pose article. Jussim then commented: I [Jussim] think that Cuddy/Fiske world is slowly shrinking. Show More Summary

The Aristocrats!

[cat picture] I followed a link from Tyler Cowen to the book, “Inside Job: How Government Insiders Subvert the Public Interest,” by Mark Zupan (but not this Mark Zupan, I think). The link points to the book’s Amazon page, and here’sShow More Summary

A completely reasonable-sounding statement with which I strongly disagree

From a couple years ago: In the context of a listserv discussion about replication in psychology experiments, someone wrote: The current best estimate of the effect size is somewhere in between the original study and the replication’s reported value. Show More Summary

New bounds for Szemerédi’s theorem, III: A polylogarithmic bound for r_4(N)

Ben Green and I have (finally!) uploaded to the arXiv our paper “New bounds for Szemerédi’s theorem, III: A polylogarithmic bound for “, submitted to Mathematika. This is the sequel to two previous papers (and an erratum to the former paper), concerning quantitative versions of Szemerédi’s theorem in the case of length four progressions. This […]

7th graders trained to avoid Pizzagate-style data exploration—but is the training too rigid?

[cat picture] Laura Kapitula writes: I wanted to share a cute story that gave me a bit of hope. My daughter who is in 7th grade was doing her science project. She had designed an experiment comparing lemon batteries to potato batteries,...Show More Summary

“This is why FDA doesn’t like Bayes—strong prior and few data points and you can get anything”

[cat picture] In the context of a statistical application, someone wrote: Since data is retrospective I had to use informative prior. The fit of urine improved significantly (very good) without really affecting concentration. This is why FDA doesn’t like Bayes—strong prior and few data points and you can get anything. Show More Summary

Zika virus could cost United States billions of dollars

(PLOS) As United States policymakers debate how to devote money and resources to the Zika virus outbreak, understanding the potential economic impact of the virus in the US is key. Now, using a new computational model described in PLOS...Show More Summary

Brain model explores the cause of different epileptic seizure onset patterns

(PLOS) At the onset of an epileptic seizure, differing characteristics of brain tissue surrounding the seizure's origin site may determine which of two main patterns of brain activity will be seen, according to a study in PLOS Computational Biology.

Does my algorithm work? There's no shortcut for community detection

(Santa Fe Institute) Community detection is an important tool for scientists studying networks, but a new paper published in Science Advances calls into question the common practice of using metadata for ground truth validation.

What hypothesis testing is all about. (Hint: It’s not what you think.)

From 2015: The conventional view: Hyp testing is all about rejection. The idea is that if you reject the null hyp at the 5% level, you have a win, you have learned that a certain null model is false and science has progressed, either...Show More Summary

Teens and adolescents who consume too much salt show unhealthy changes to blood vessels

(American Academy of Pediatrics) Findings of a new study being presented at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting in San Francisco suggest adolescents who consume too much salt have measurable changes in their blood vessels associated with early signs of cardiovascular disease in adults.

This one came in the email from July 2015

Sent to all the American Politics faculty at Columbia, including me: RE: Donald Trump presidential candidacy Hi, Firstly, apologies for the group email but I wasn’t sure who would be best prized to answer this query as we’ve not had much luck so far. Show More Summary

Fake news and filters aren't fooling internet users

(Michigan State University) Despite what some politicians argue, fake news and biased search algorithms aren't swaying public opinion, finds a Michigan State University researcher.

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