ArchiveMay 2015

Why most reporting on medical research is crap

This spring, the journal “International Archives of Medicine” published a delicious new study: According to researchers at Germany’s Institute of Diet and Health, people who ate dark chocolate while dieting lost more weight. The media coverage was instantaneous and jubilant: “Scientists say eating chocolate can help you lose weight” read a headline in the Irish Examiner. “Excellent News:...

Why most medical research is crap

“A lot of what is published is incorrect.” I’m not allowed to say who made this remark because we were asked to observe Chatham House rules. We were also asked not to take photographs of slides. Those who worked for government agencies pleaded that their comments especially remain unquoted, since the forthcoming UK election meant they were living in “purdah”—a chilling state where severe...

Elon Musk created a school just for his kids

Elon Musk didn’t like his kids’ school, so he started his own, the inventor and entrepreneur said in an interview on Beijing Television. […] Musk says in the interview that Ad Astra, which is a year old, currently has 14 kids and will increase to 20 in September. His grand vision for the school involves removing grade levels, so there’s no distinction between students in...

Why higher ed administrators are often a disaster

This article is clearly a hatchet job on Bernie Sanders, because his wife’s behavior isn’t relevant  to his political ambitions (plus, he’s a complete non-contender for the nomination!). But it shows how higher ed administrators often function: come up with a snazzy idea, one that is not the least bit anchored in reality, push it through against all opposition, and then depart...

Welcome to the jungle

The New York Times has detailed coverage of the political science gay canvasser scandal. Critics said the intense competition by graduate students to be published in prestigious journals, weak oversight by academic advisers and the rush by journals to publish studies that will attract attention too often led to sloppy and even unethical research methods. The now disputed study was covered by The...

Science retracts study on gay canvassers because it was fake!

This is indeed a very big deal, as Science is the top science journal in the world, and the senior author is a well-respected political scientist. The study was published last December in Science, and received lots of media attention. It found that a 20-minute, one-on-one conversation with a gay political canvasser could steer voters in favor of same-sex marriage. Not only that, but these changed...

Republicans and North Carolina higher ed: “Winter is coming”

A right-leaning public policy foundation is making waves in North Carolina’s public university system. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on how the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy is getting traction among the state’s Republican political leadership. The Center, the Chronicle tells us, aims to “[make] public colleges more accountable to the public, by holding them to...

How to administer course evaluations

—Hand out evaluation forms when the most irascible student in class is absent. —Be sure that the only assignment you give right before the evaluation is a low-stakes one. “Have them write an easy paper where they can talk about themselves and their journey in the class,” Ms. Wilson advises. And never give back a graded assignment on evaluation day. —Don’t leave the classroom while the evaluations...

“The new Jews of Harvard”

The title of an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal: In practice, however, there is strong evidence that racial balance is the highest priority at schools like Harvard, and holistic admissions are used to obscure the racial bean-counting necessary to obtain the desired racial mix. At the California Institute of Technology, a selective private college that uses color-blind admissions, Asian...

How to de-Google your life

Imagine you get a letter in the post offering you free water. Instead of paying Irish Water for your supply, another company promises you a generous quantity of free water. The catch? Instead of water meters, the company wants to install meters measuring the comings and goings to your home. They will also record who you know, who you communicate with and how often. They will store information on...

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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