Viewing entries tagged
statistics

Getting Your Hands Dirty With Data

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Getting Your Hands Dirty With Data

Is the presentation of the data hiding something? Was anything excluded or minimized? Was anything glossed over? Was one part of the graph highlighted or emphasized to draw attention away from something else?

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Know Your Errors

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Know Your Errors

The most interesting stories are when theory connects to observations, when there's a strong attempt to refute or bolster some piece of (un)known science. And here the name of the game is error bars.

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Don't Trust the Data

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Don't Trust the Data

I've had a pithy saying that I like to toss around. I don't know where I got it, and I can't find a source for it, so I'll go ahead and take credit for it: the first thing that lies to you is the data. Never, ever trust it.

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Extraordinary Claims

Extraordinary Claims

You've probably encountered the phrase "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." Well, it's not just some pithy saying that relieves you of the burden of having to believe every random statement you might encounter in your life.

Statistics Brought to You by the Letter P - Notes from the Chief

Statistics Brought to You by the Letter P - Notes from the Chief

Last week I mentioned an odd term, p-value, which is commonly used in deciding whether your results are worth mentioning to your colleagues and the public. Of course it has a strict and narrow meaning, and of course that meaning is abused and misinterpreted in discussions about science. 

P-hacking the System

P-hacking the System

Science is hard. Scientists have to stare at mountains of data and try to figure out what secrets nature is whispering to them. There are innumerable blind alleys, dead ends, and false starts in academic research. That's life, and that's why over the centuries we've developed sophisticated statistical techniques to help lead us to understanding. But if you're not careful, you can fool yourself into thinking there's a signal when really you've found nothing but noise.

Rats

Rats

Once again there's a fresh round of blaring headlines and nervous chatter about potential links between cell phone use and cancer, this time based on a recent study purporting to show that a group of rats exposed to radio waves had greater incidents of tumors compared to a control group.