Pure Pedantry

Archives for June, 2008

A lot of people have read The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki. In the book, he gives an example of a group of people forced to estimate the weight of a cow. (This was actually an experiment that geneticist Franics Galton attempted.) When you do this, you find that the accuracy of the average…

There is a must-read paper in Nature about the limits of functional MRI as an experimental tool by one of its pioneers, Nikos Logothetis. (Also discussed by Jonah and Vaughan.) This paper is pretty technical, but Logothetis hits the important points of what it is we think we are actually measuring using the fMRI. Also,…

Sedating the Demented

There was a very sad article in the NYTimes about the regular practice in some long-term care facilities of treating demented patients with anti-psychotic medications like Risperdal, Seroquel and Zyprexa: The use of antipsychotic drugs to tamp down the agitation, combative behavior and outbursts of dementia patients has soared, especially in the elderly. Sales of…

Presh has a great post on game theory and voting power using nominations to the Israeli Supreme Court as an example. Take homes: Here is what you can take away when creating your own voting structures: 1. Vote size does not equate to voting power 2. Smaller voters can still hold great power 3. Voters…

This is a bit old, but in case you haven’t seen it… A few weeks ago, Jake wrote a post about the importance of teaching during grad school. I couldn’t agree more–some of my best experiences in grad school to date have been in front of a classroom of keen undergrads, their young minds yearning…

Psychobabble solicitaiton

PsyBlog is soliciting your favorite psychobabble. Head over there to give your favorite instance of the complete misinterpretation of psychology in pop culture. My favorite is number one on their list of examples: “Their brains lit up in the scanner.” Brain activity is not phosphorescent. There is euphemism, and there is a point where the…

Encephalon is up

Encephalon is up at Neuroanthropology.

Energy Policy, By the Numbers

Two great articles on energy policy. 1) One of the major points of resistance to carbon taxes or caps is that developing countries won’t have similar quotas giving them a comparative advantage in the production of goods. However, some economists don’t think that comparative advantage will be very large. The percentage of the cost of…

George Carlin RIP

George Carlin died yesterday. I always loved his comedy, but more important to me Carlin affirmed my atheism at a time in my life when I didn’t really know anyone else who felt that way. He poked fun at religion, and listening to his comedy made me feel like I wasn’t weird to note the…

3% of Doctors Aren’t Frustrated

Well that is not good: In a survey last year of nearly 2,400 physicians conducted by a physician recruiting firm, locumtenens.com, 3 percent said they were not frustrated by nonclinical aspects of medicine. The level of frustration has increased with nearly every survey. … In surveys, increasing numbers of doctors attest to diminishing enthusiasm for…