ArchiveDecember 2014

Statisticians in World War II

One of them was George Box, a young sergeant from Gravesend who had left school aged 16 in 1936 to work as an assistant to a chemist in a sewage plant. This background brought him to Porton Down, where the army was studying the effects of poisons such as mustard gas. Sergeant Box knew enough to tell his superiors that they needed a statistician—and that he had once tried to read a book by someone...

LSU offers faculty buyouts

What is interesting is that the amounts have been published; I usually don’t see this in articles about buyouts. A year’s salary is also the largest buyout I have come across: LSU’s Law Center is offering an incentive to seven professors if they retire next summer as it looks to cut costs amid a dwindling interest in law schools nationally. The professors, all older than 65 and...

The world is in great shape, despite what you think

It’s a good time to be a pessimist. ISIS, Crimea, Donetsk, Gaza, Burma, Ebola, school shootings, campus rapes, wife-beating athletes, lethal cops—who can avoid the feeling that things fall apart, the center cannot hold? Last year Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified before a Senate committee that the world is “more dangerous than it has ever been.” This past...

Atticus Finch: rape apologist

With the increasing focus on sexual assault, if “To Kill A Mockingbird” were taught in women’s studies classes today, Finch would have to be labeled the villain of the book for not accepting at face value an accuser’s tale of rape and for posing difficult, painful questions to her on the witness stand.

Is the Securities and Exchange Commission trampling academic freedom?

As it turns out, not at all: Thus, the salient point is that the proposal appears in the proxy only because the Harvard SRP voluntarily decides to avail itself of an SEC rule that forces the company to put the statement on the company’s proxy. In order to benefit from this rule, the proponent has to agree to abide by SEC rules that prohibit proposals from making statements that suffer from...

Just how random is the peer review process?

Pretty damn random: The NIPS consistency experiment was an amazing, courageous move by the organizers this year to quantify the randomness in the review process. They split the program committee down the middle, effectively forming two independent program committees. Most submitted papers were assigned to a single side, but 10% of submissions (166) were reviewed by both halves of the committee...

Why Google doesn’t care about hiring top college graduates

Once again, glad that I am heavily funding my retirement. Google has spent years analyzing who succeeds at the company, which has moved away from a focus on GPAs, brand name schools, and interview brain teasers. Many schools don’t deliver on what they promise, Bock says, but generate a ton of debt in return for not learning what’s most useful. It’s an “extended adolescence,” he says. Succeeding...

College ratings are the Holy Grail

Had a listserv exchange with Bob Morse about the feds’ college ratings system, criticizing it and US News’ graduation rate model. He said “You are right that USNEWS is a for-profit company and we aren’t doing social science level analysis.” Here was my reply: For-profit status has nothing to do with it. When I make an error in one of my articles, I mislead about a dozen...

About me

Stephen

Professor and quant guy. Libertarian turned populist Republican. Trying to learn Japanese and play Spanish Baroque music on the ukulele.

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