Daily Data Dump (Monday)

By Razib Khan | May 3, 2010 2:55 pm

Blood tests bring mammoth life out of freezer. Basically it looks like mammoth haemoglobin was optimized toward function at lower temperatures. This obviously makes sense, we infer it from what we know, but it’s awesome that experimental science has gotten to the point where it can test some inferences we make from natural history.

Clive Thompson on Why We Should Learn the Language of Data. People should learn statistics. On the other hand, people sometimes cause more problems after they learn a new technique than before. This is not one of those cases though I think. Far too often one’s generalizations are falsified with one counter-example in discussion.

Louse story. The evolutionary history of these parasites is important for humans. It tells us about whether our ancestors had fur or not, and who they consorted with.

A Closer Look At Friday’s GDP Report. Yes, the recession’s over, but is it going to be V-shaped or U-shaped? The “smart money” still seems to be on the U, but the “smart money” has proven to dumb-as-a-rock before. But if the Greek situation goes out of control it looks like we should consider the likelihood of a “double dip,” an W-shape.

George R. R. Martin talks ‘Game of Thrones’ as the HBO show’s ‘Daenerys’ departs. Wide-ranging discussion with fantasist George R. R. Martin.

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  • Melykin

    I agree it would be nice if everyone understood more about statistics. However, as a person who teaches introductory statistics, I don’t feel very optimistic about this happening any time soon. I spend a lot of time trying to teach people that correlation is not necessarily causation, and it is very disappointing how few students understand it in the end. I think humans must have some sort of natural instinct to always look for cause-effect situations. Especially when something bad happens, people almost always want to know “why”. It makes people feel safer and more in control if they think they understand what causes bad things.

    It is uphill work to try to convince people that when two things happen together there is not necessarily a cause-effect relationship. On The Clive Thompson blog linked to above someone called Buzzcut wrote a comment saying implying (I think) that correlation *is* causation–otherwise many of the results in social science would be suspect. I think much of social science nonsense.

  • Chris T

    Casinos would be in trouble if more people understood basic statistics.

    The other thing people really like to be able to do is blame someone; we don’t deal with uncontrollable and unpredictable events well. Someone must be responsible (so long as it isn’t us).

  • Chris T

    A bigger problem in Social Science is treating variables as independent when they shouldn’t (ie: education and iq).


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com


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