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Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Gelman’

Calling All Data Memoirists

The statistician Andrew Gelman has asked us to publicize what sounds like a nifty project: a Year-in-the-Life look at what data hounds and statisticians actually do:

So here’s the plan. 365 of you write vignettes about your statistical lives. Get into the nitty gritty—tell me what you do, and why you’re doing it. I’ll collect these and then post them at the Statistics Forum, one a day for a year. I think that could be great, truly a unique resource into what statistics and quantitative research is really like. Also it will be perfect for the Statistics Forum: people will want to tune in everyday to see what comes next.

In an e-mail, he adds:

I think it would be a great service to the professions of quantitative research to get vignettes from a wide variety of statistical practitioners.  (I’d be interested in hearing what empirical economists do during their days too!)  So I’d like to spread the net wide and get lots of stories from people.

And yes, for those of you who read the agate type, this post goes in the Bygones Being Bygones file.

Freakonomics: What Went Right? Responding to Wrong-Headed Attacks

Warning: what follows is a horribly long, inside-baseball post that most people will likely have little interest in reading, and which I had little interest in writing. But it did need to be written. Apologies for the length and the indulgence; we will soon return to our regular programming.

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I. Going on the attack is generally more fun, profitable, and attention-getting than playing defense. Politicians know this; athletes know it; even academics know it. Or perhaps I should say that especially academics know it?

Given the nature of the Freakonomics work that Steve Levitt and I do, we get our fair share of critiques. Some are ideological or political; others are emotional.

We generally look over such critiques to see if they contain worthwhile feedback, or point to an error in need of correction. But for the most part, we tend to not reply to critiques. It seems only fair to let critics have their say (as writers, we’ve already had ours). Furthermore, spending one’s time responding to wayward attacks is the kind of chore you’d rather skip in order to get on with your work.

But occasionally an attack is so spectacularly ridiculous, so riddled with errors and mangled logic, that it’s worth addressing.

The following essay responds to two such attacks. The first one was relatively minor, a recent blog post written by a Yale professor. The second was more substantial, an essay by a pair of statisticians in American Scientist. Feel free to skip ahead to that one (at section III below), or buckle up for the whole bumpy ride.

A Reading List for Stats Fans

Andrew Gelman, a statistician at Columbia University, offers some reading suggestions for fans of statistics (no, they are not as numerous as fans of, say, Harry Potter, but still …).

Final Guest-Blog From Seth Roberts

Here is the final post from our guest blogger, Seth Roberts. If you need to get up to speed on Seth’s unorthodox research with weight-loss, mood, acne, and sleep, click here (our N.Y. Times article about him), here (research extras and pix), here (the first round of reader comments), and here, here, here, here, and here for his earlier blog . . .