January 14, 2018


  • Metropolitan Museum of Art President “For various reasons, over the past 10 or 12 years, the pay-as-you-wish policy has failed. It has declined by 71% in the amount people pay.” Felix SalmonIt’s worth fact-checking this, because it turns out that it’s not really true”
  • Cloudflare, a company that distributes websites across the world, has a wall of lava lamps that it uses for random number generation (presumably to seed computational pseudorandom generators)
  • “Do algorithms reveal sexual orientation or just expose our stereotypes?”— on last year’s ‘gaydar’ paper.
  • 538 looks at how they got an analysis of broadband internet availabilty wrong, due to bad data.
  • “The projects tried to show hidden patterns of our daily shopping….Unfortunately, it shows only the internal categorization and sorting of the supermarket.” Another example of data not meaning what you think it means. Christian Laesser (via FlowingData)
  • Child protective agencies are haunted when they fail to save kids. Pittsburgh officials believe a new data analysis program is helping them make better judgment calls.from the New York Times.
  • The NZ government has released a review of the handling of weather data (PDF)
  • From the LSE Impact blog “Academics looking to communicate the findings and value of their research to wider audiences are increasingly going through the media to do so. But poor or incomplete reporting can undermine respect for experts by misrepresenting research, especially by trivialising or sensationalising it, or publishing under inappropriate headlines and with cherry-picked statistics.”  As StatsChat readers will known a lot of this is public-relations people, but some of it is definitely the researchers.
  • The scientific reporting of some pre-clinical research is disturbingly crap: a report in the BMJ; Siouxsie Wiles commenting at The Spinoff
  • Constructing optical illusions for AI visual systems: (gory technical details)
  • You may have seen reports of research saying that Australian hawks spread bushfires…


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 »

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