Quote: In a world where the price of calculation continues to decrease rapidly…

“In a world where the price of calculation continues to decrease rapidly, but the price of theorem proving continues to hold steady or increase, elementary economics indicates that we ought to spend a larger and larger fraction of our time on calculation.” John Tukey, as quoted in “Sunset Salvo”, The American Statistician 1986; 40(10): 72-76.

Recommended: How a Feel-Good AI Story Went Wrong in Flint

Building a great statistical model does no one any good if it doesn’t pay attention to non-statistical issues. This story talks about a machine learning model to identify which houses in Flint Michagan that were the best candidates for removal of lead pipes. The model worked fairly well, but came up against problems like individual city council members wanting to assure their constituents that enough was being done in their district. I’m not sure what the actual moral of this story is, but it does serve as a warning to be careful when you are modeling data in a contentous area. Continue reading

Recommended: Making women in science visible

This video was recommended by my niece, and it caught my eye for a more subtle theme, perhaps. Rachel Ignotofsky is a great believer that illustration makes difficult material more accessible. This supports an idea I’ve had for a while to develop a book of case studies in research ethics using a graphic novel format. Anyway, the video also emphasizes the importance of recognizing barriers of sexism, racism, and classism that many great women scientists have faced and overcome. This video is a fairly easy 15 minutes to listen to. Continue reading

Recommended: Congratulations on the Promotion. But Did Science Get a Demotion?

I am recommending this article, not because I agree with it, but because it reinforces a common theme: the struggle to get and keep funding is skewing research as much as or more than conflicts caused by direct financial support. Like many of the previous articles on the topic, I find this article to be rife with speculation and lacking any empirical data to support the issue. I outlined similar concerns on my website back in 2005. Recently, the belief that obtaining a government grant somehow taints your credibility has led to a purge of good scientists from many EPA advisory panels.

I think this article offers bad advice and bad conclusions. But please read this article and decide for yourself. Continue reading