You may not be interested in noise, but noise is interested in you

[Edit, Sept. 25, 2016: In retrospect, this is a confusing post. The overall point is fine, but my contrived illustration is not a good one.] At an otherwise excellent talk some time ago, the speaker put up a graph like this (look below — not the cheetah)… …and said that the two sets of data points, … Continue reading You may not be interested in noise, but noise is interested in you

Science Pub 2016

A few evenings ago I gave a “science pub” talk — part of a long-running series of public presentations that the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry runs at several sites in the state. (This was at a local pizza place, so thankfully I could just bike to it.) I called the talk “Glimpses of … Continue reading Science Pub 2016

How I learned to stop worrying and love geoengineering

As I briefly mentioned in my end-of-year book recap, one of the best books I read in 2015, and one of the best popular science books I’ve read ever, is Oliver Morton’s The Planet Remade: How Geoengineering Could Change the World. Geoengineering refers to the intentional manipulation of climate, usually in the context of combatting … Continue reading How I learned to stop worrying and love geoengineering

How do I hate p-values? Let me count the ways…

[Note: a long post of interest only to people who care about data analysis and bad statistics, and maybe about the distant stars influencing your life.] By now, we should all be able to list the many reasons that p-values (or null-hypothesis-significance-testing, NHST) are awful: that “statistical significance” has nothing to do with effect size … Continue reading How do I hate p-values? Let me count the ways…