Machine Learning Mixer

What do mice chasing crickets, particle accelerators, solid sponges for natural gas storage, and toddlers with cameras mounted on their heads have in common? All were the subjects of short talks at yesterday afternoon’s “Informal Symposium” on Machine Learning in the Sciences at the University of Oregon, that Teddy Hay, Gabriel Barello, and I co-organized. … Continue reading Machine Learning Mixer

Witchcraft, Guts, and Statistics

A few months ago, I read parts of “Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic among the Azande” (E.E. Evans-Pritchard, 1937). I like cultural anthropology, and I much prefer descriptions of the creative ways that humans have constructed societies to the more “scientific” anthropology that now seems more prevalent, and so it’s not surprising that I found Evans-Pritchard’s … Continue reading Witchcraft, Guts, and Statistics

Fight the power (pose)

Why is science communication difficult? For subjects like vaccination, climate change, genetic modification, and more, there are rifts between the views of scientists and the views of large segments of the US population, rifts that seem driven not only by a lack of understanding of scientific concepts, but also by a lack of understanding of … Continue reading Fight the power (pose)

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

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…