arachnekallisti: (Default)
Today was one of the friendlier professors' birthday, and the entire office bunked off to a rather nice pub for lunch. I ended up sitting next to the professor in general, and discussing the Dead Fish Test. In return, I was told about the Medical Astrology paper, a cautionary tale in medically spurious post hoc subgroup analysis. Apparently, from analysis of a largeish hospital admissions dataset split up by sun sign, we can deduce that Geminis are more likely to be alcoholics, Capricorns are more likely to have abortions and Scorpios are more likely to suffer anal abcesses. Of course, if we split the admissions up by sun sign and then look for the diagnosis that's most common within each subgroup, we will be able to produce these kind of results. We could just as easily try to find out what diagnoses correlate most strongly with being born on a Monday or being called Kevin.

On the same note: more news and comment on the dead fish.



arachnekallisti: (Default)
It's a pity that I didn't have this paper handy to wave at the Survey Twits. It displays a series of fMRI scans purporting to show how different areas of the brain light up when the owner of said brain is shown pictures of scenes of human interaction with different emotional content.

Thing is? The owner of the brain was a salmon, and was not alive at the time. The active voxels were due to random noise in the fMRI time series.

It's a valuable cautionary tale as regards false positives. Before you publish your fMRI data, ask yourself if you could have got the same results from a dead fish.

Anyway, things that make me happy:
1. I now have a large stack of vintage back issues of 2000AD dating from 1979-1985, which turned up in someone's attic and were given to me for free. They include such highlights as the Apocalypse War, the Judge Death Arc, and the issue in wich Johnny Alpha finally moved in with Wulf Sternhammer. Squee!

2. As recommended by [livejournal.com profile] huggyrei: sleeping kittens. Making little high-pitched kitteny noises. I am dead of cute now.

3. [livejournal.com profile] scans_daily is gone but not forgotten. Other communities have stepped into the breach, and there are archives available, as is explained here.

4. Cory Doctorow's short stories and novels are available online, since he's putting his money where his mouth is on Creative Commons. He's got a nice line in really rather well-thought-out near futures, and can do great world-building by paying attention to the little details of what people eat, how they get to work and so on. He's also got a rather touching appreciation for the aesthetics of junk.
arachnekallisti: (Default)
The week in Godawful Science:

1. A couple of idiots attempt what is either a) one of the most shoddy and unethical pieces of research I've ever seen or b) one of the biggest trolling exercises I've ever seen. I can't possibly summarise the FAIL nearly as well as these two bloggers did. Suffice to say that their brilliant research questionnaire included such stunningly logical questions as "Which fictional character would you consider your perfect mate?"

2. [livejournal.com profile] dracothelizard linked to a particularly failtastic piece of "research" that claims to prove that girls are innately scared of spiders. Sigh. I refer you to my username. Evolutionary psychologists prove, once again, that I don't exist.

Anyway, having proven I'm imaginary, let me cheer you up with some News of the Weird:

1. The Whitstable Seagulls. They will come for your cat and your allen keys.

2. If you've ever wondered what Lalla Ward's been doing since leaving Tom Baker, besides illustrating and editing Richard Dawkins' books, wonder no more. Knitting patterns. The pictures of her modelling them have to be seen to be believed.

3. Ben Goldacre now owns a cape and has managed to befriend Tony Head in Waitrose. This is clearly a Sign.

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