April 8, 2016


  • A lottery in the US rigged by subverting the random number generator.  That’s harder to do with the complicated balls-from-a-machine we use — and it’s also more obvious when drawing balls from a machine that betting systems based on sophisticated numerical sequences won’t work.
  • The (US) Transport Security Administration has a ‘fast lane’ for more-trusted travellers, who get chosen for screening randomly. They use a randomizer app to make sure it really is random, which is a good idea — people are very bad at random choices. But perhaps it shouldn’t have cost $50k.
  • The Panama Papers are an example of the importance of data skills to journalists.
  • University of Otago research on microRNA may help with Alzheimer’s Disease diagnosis, which is interesting and potentially very useful, but there have been a lot of ‘potential tests’ recently. Also the research is unpublished and they aren’t disclosing yet which microRNAs are involved, so perhaps the publicity could have waited.

Thomas Lumley (@tslumley) is Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Auckland. His research interests include semiparametric models, survey sampling, statistical computing, foundations of statistics, and whatever methodological problems his medical collaborators come up with. He also blogs at Biased and Inefficient See all posts by Thomas Lumley »