Statistics

Mike the Mad Biologist

Category archives for Statistics

Reporting on the human microbiome–the microorganisms that live on and in us–is quite the rage these days. As someone who is involved in NIH’s Human Microbiome Project, it’s a pretty exciting time because the size and scale of the data we’re able to generate is unprecedented. This also means we have to figure out how…

This is what children with poor self-control become (from here) Melody Dye at Child’s Play has an interesting post about the famous (or infamous) cookie experiments, which involved observing children presented with a cookie and then left alone in a room. If they wait long enough, they get another cookie (and they know this). If…

Since I’ve been writing a lot about education, I have some brief thoughts about the NY Times report by David Leonhardt about some findings from Tennessee’s Project STAR which tracked the long-term outcomes about a randomization trial of kindergartners (slides from a presentation are available as a pdf): Just as in other studies, the Tennessee…

Yesterday, I described the relationship between low-income and poor performance in English and math in Massachusetts (see the post for methodological details). Well, I’ve saved the worst for last–science education: Just to remind everyone, the horizontal axis is the percentage of children in a school who qualify for free lunch, and the vertical axis is…

Poverty and Learning in Massachusetts

I’ve described before how there is a significant correlation between poverty and educational performance when we use state-level data. But as I pointed out, one of the interesting things is that the residual–the difference between the expected scores for a given state and the actual scores–can be quite large for some states (e.g., Massachusetts does…

Forget about measuring student outcomes. Can we even measure student numbers? A couple of weeks ago, I started pulling data from the NY Times website that displays the citywide testing scores (I was interested in exploring the relationship between poverty and test scores at a finer resolution than I had previously). Here’s the problem: the…

Clive Thompson nails it when he describes the importance of statistical thinking (italics original; boldtype mine): Statistics is hard. But that’s not just an issue of individual understanding; it’s also becoming one of the nation’s biggest political problems. We live in a world where the thorniest policy issues increasingly boil down to arguments over what…

Republicans are in a bit of a bind regarding the U.S. Census. In the past, they have opposed “statistical sampling”, which would readjust the Census results to account for undersampled groups, such as the poor and minorities, which typically vote Democratic. In fact, congressional Republicans made Obama’s Census director pinky-swear not to do this, and…

After finding this post about income inequality and social problems, I decided to check out the ‘book version’, The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always do Better, by epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. It has a lot to recommend it (if you want the short pdf version, it’s available here). First, the…

Friday, The NY Times reported on Greece’s ongoing financial troubles. There is something to be said for discussing whether pensions should begin at age 50–it touches on economics, social values, and so on. But then the reporter refers to some ‘analysis’ by the Cato Institute: According to research by Jagadeesh Gokhale, an economist at the…