Archive of entries posted by

## Everything I need to know about Bayesian statistics, I learned in eight schools.

This post is by Phil. I’m aware that there are some people who use a Bayesian approach largely because it allows them to provide a highly informative prior distribution based subjective judgment, but that is not the appeal of Bayesian methods for a lot of us practitioners. It’s disappointing and surprising, twenty years after my initial experiences, […]

## You heard it here first: Intense exercise can suppress appetite

This post is by Phil Price. The New York Times recently ran an article entitled “How Exercise Can Help Us Eat Less,” which begins with this: “Strenuous exercise seems to dull the urge to eat afterward better than gentler workouts, several new studies show, adding to a growing body of science suggesting that intense exercise […]

## There are no fat sprinters

This post is by Phil. A little over three years ago I wrote a post about exercise and weight loss in which I described losing a fair amount of weight due to (I believe) an exercise regime, with no effort to change my diet; this contradicted the prediction of studies that had recently been released. […]

## The Great Race

This post is by Phil. Last summer my wife and I took a 3.5-month vacation that included a wide range of activities. When I got back, people would ask “what were the highlights or your trip?”, and I was somewhat at a loss: we had done so many things that were so different, many of […]

## Data problems, coding errors…what can be done?

This post is by Phil A recent post on this blog discusses a prominent case of an Excel error leading to substantially wrong results from a statistical analysis. Excel is notorious for this because it is easy to add a row or column of data (or intermediate results) but forget to update equations so that […]

## 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 […]

## 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 […]

## Write This Book

This post is by Phil Price. I’ve been preparing a review of a new statistics textbook aimed at students and practitioners in the “physical sciences,” as distinct from the social sciences and also distinct from people who intend to take more statistics courses. I figured that since it’s been years since I looked at an intro […]

## 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 […]

## 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 careful 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 […]

## The more likely it is to be X, the more likely it is to be Not X?

This post is by Phil Price. A paper by Wood, Douglas, and Sutton looks at “Beliefs in Contradictory Conspiracy Theories.”  Unfortunately the  subjects were 140 undergraduate psychology students, so one wonders how general the results are.  I found this sort of arresting: In Study 1 (n=137), the more participants believed that Princess Diana faked her […]

## Benford’s Law suggests lots of financial fraud

This post is by Phil. I love this post by Jialan Wang. Wang “downloaded quarterly accounting data for all firms in Compustat, the most widely-used dataset in corporate finance that contains data on over 20,000 firms from SEC filings” and looked at the statistical distribution of leading digits in various pieces of financial information. As […]

## Another day, another stats postdoc

This post is from Phil Price.  I work in the Environmental Energy Technologies Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and I am looking for a postdoc who knows substantially more than I do about time-series modeling; in practice this probably means someone whose dissertation work involved that sort of thing.  The work involves developing models […]

## Even a good data display can sometimes be improved

When I first saw this graphic, I thought “boy, that’s great, sometimes the graphic practically makes itself.” Normally it’s hard to use lots of different colors to differentiate items of interest, because there’s usually not an intuitive mapping between color and item (e.g. for countries, or states, or whatever). But the colors of crayons, what […]

## Censoring on one end, “outliers” on the other, what can we do with the middle?

This post was written by Phil. A medical company is testing a cancer drug. They get a 16 genetically identical (or nearly identical) rats that all have the same kind of tumor, give 8 of them the drug and leave 8 untreated…or maybe they give them a placebo, I don’t know; is there a placebo […]

## How the ignorant idiots win, explained. Maybe.

According to a New York Times article, cognitive scientists Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber have a new theory about rational argument: humans didn’t develop it in order to learn about the world, we developed it in order to win arguments with other people. “It was a purely social phenomenon. It evolved to help us convince […]

## Improvement of 5 MPG: how many more auto deaths?

This entry was posted by Phil Price. A colleague is looking at data on car (and SUV and light truck) collisions and casualties. He’s interested in causal relationships. For instance, suppose car manufacturers try to improve gas mileage without decreasing acceleration. The most likely way they will do that is to make cars lighter. But […]

## Worst statistical graphic I have seen this year

This gets my vote for the worst statistical graphic I (Phil) have seen this year. If you’ve got a worse one, put a link in the comments. “Credit” for this one goes to “Peter and Maria Hoey (Source: Tommy McCall/Environmental Law Institute).”

## Do you have any idea what you’re talking about?

We all have opinions about the federal budget and how it should be spent. Infrequently, those opinions are informed by some knowledge about where the money actually goes. It turns out that most people don’t have a clue. What about you? Here, take this poll/quiz and then compare your answers to (1) what other people said, in a CNN poll that asked about these same items and (2) compare your answers to the real answers.

Quiz is below the fold.