Three new books on the challenge of drawing confident conclusions from an uncertain world.
Not sure how I missed this when it came out two weeks ago, but glad it popped up in my reader today.
This has some nice overview material for the general public on probability theory and science, but given the state of research, I’d even recommend this and some of the references to working scientists.
What happens when several thousand distinguished physicists, researchers, and students descend on the nation’s gambling capital for a conference? The answer is "a bad week for the casino"—but you'd never guess why.
The year was 1986, and the American Physical Society’s annual April meeting was slated to be held in San Diego. But when scheduling conflicts caused the hotel arrangements to fall through just a few months before, the conference's organizers were left scrambling to find an alternative destination that could accommodate the crowd—and ended up settling on Las Vegas's MGM grand.
Totally physics clickbait. The headline should have read: “Vegas won’t cater to physics conferences anymore because they’re too smart to gamble.”
Brian Wansink won fame, funding, and influence for his science-backed advice on healthy eating. Now, emails show how the Cornell professor and his colleagues have hacked and massaged low-quality data into headline-friendly studies to “go virally big time.”
This article is painful to read and has some serious implications for both science in general and the issue of repeat-ability. I suspect that this is an easily caught flagrant case and that it probably only scratches the surface. The increased competition in research and the academy is sure to create more cases of this in the future.
We really need people to begin publishing their negative results and doing a better job on understanding and practicing statistics. Science is already not “believed” by far too many in the United States, we really don’t need bad actors like this eroding the solid foundations we’ve otherwise built.
Observational data about human behavior is often heterogeneous, i.e., generated by subgroups within the population under study that vary in size and behavior. Heterogeneity predisposes analysis to Simpson's paradox, whereby the trends observed in data that has been aggregated over the entire population may be substantially different from those of the underlying subgroups. I illustrate Simpson's paradox with several examples coming from studies of online behavior and show that aggregate response leads to wrong conclusions about the underlying individual behavior. I then present a simple method to test whether Simpson's paradox is affecting results of analysis. The presence of Simpson's paradox in social data suggests that important behavioral differences exist within the population, and failure to take these differences into account can distort the studies' findings.
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, gamblers and mathematicians transformed the idea of chance from a mystery into the discipline of probability, setting the stage for a series of breakthroughs that enabled or transformed innumerable fields, from gambling, mathematics, statistics, economics, and finance to physics and computer science. This book tells the story of ten great ideas about chance and the thinkers who developed them, tracing the philosophical implications of these ideas as well as their mathematical impact.
Persi Diaconis and Brian Skyrms begin with Gerolamo Cardano, a sixteenth-century physician, mathematician, and professional gambler who helped develop the idea that chance actually can be measured. They describe how later thinkers showed how the judgment of chance also can be measured, how frequency is related to chance, and how chance, judgment, and frequency could be unified. Diaconis and Skyrms explain how Thomas Bayes laid the foundation of modern statistics, and they explore David Hume’s problem of induction, Andrey Kolmogorov’s general mathematical framework for probability, the application of computability to chance, and why chance is essential to modern physics. A final idea―that we are psychologically predisposed to error when judging chance―is taken up through the work of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky.
Complete with a brief probability refresher, Ten Great Ideas about Chance is certain to be a hit with anyone who wants to understand the secrets of probability and how they were discovered.
We discuss properties of the "beamsplitter addition" operation, which provides a non-standard scaled convolution of random variables supported on the non-negative integers. We give a simple expression for the action of beamsplitter addition using generating functions. We use this to give a self-contained and purely classical proof of a heat equation and de Bruijn identity, satisfied when one of the variables is geometric.
The U.S.C./Los Angeles Times poll has consistently been an outlier, showing Donald Trump in the lead or near the lead.
Alone, he has been enough to put Mr. Trump in double digits of support among black voters. He can improve Mr. Trump’s margin by 1 point in the survey, even though he is one of around 3,000 panelists.
He is also the reason Mrs. Clinton took the lead in the U.S.C./LAT poll for the first time in a month on Wednesday. The poll includes only the last seven days of respondents, and he hasn’t taken the poll since Oct. 4. Mrs. Clinton surged once he was out of the sample for the first time in several weeks.