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ProjectTemplate Version 0.1-3 Released

I’ve just released the newest version of ProjectTemplate. The primary change is a completely redesigned mechanism for automatically loading data. ProjectTemplate can now read compressed CSV files, access CSV data files over HTTP, read Stata, SPSS and RData binary files and even load MySQL database tables automatically. For my own projects, this is a big […]

Three-Quarter Truths: Correlation Is Not Causation

Three-Quarter Truths: Correlation Is Not Causation

Other than our culture’s implicit association between lies, damned lies and statistics, I think no idea has stifled the growth of statistical literacy as much as the endless repetition of the words correlation is not causation. This phrase seems to be primarily used to suppress intellectual inquiry by encouraging the unspoken assumption that correlational knowledge […]

Freedman on Decision Theory

On the other hand, taken as a whole, decision theory seems to have about the same connection to real decisions as war games played on a table do to real wars.1 David Freedman : Some issues in the foundation of statistics↩

Two New R Packages: log4r and SortableHTMLTables

I’ve just released two new packages for R: log4r and SortableHTMLTables. log4r is a minimal logging utility for R that’s inspired by the log4j family of logging tools. It has substantially fewer features than other logging tools for R, but it’s hopefully easier to use. SortableHTMLTables uses brew and the jQuery Tablesorter plugin to provide […]

Higher Order Functions in R

Introduction Because R is, in part, a functional programming language, the ‘base’ package contains several higher order functions. By higher order functions, I mean functions that take another function as an argument and then do something with that function. If you want to know more about the usefulness of writing higher order functions in general, […]

Seeing the Big Picture

Here’s a nice snippet from a 2009 article by Kass that I read yesterday: According to my understanding, laid out above, statistical pragmatism has two main features: it is eclectic and it emphasizes the assumptions that connect statistical models with observed data. The pragmatic view acknowledges that both sides of the frequentist-Bayesian debate made important […]

Why Use ProjectTemplate or Any Other Framework?

We use frameworks like Ruby on Rails or ProjectTemplate to minimize the time we spend on irrelevant details. By definition, an irrelevant detail isn’t of interest to us. But how can we tell which details are irrelevant? This isn’t a trivial task and it seems to be, on the surface, a profoundly subjective matter. Thankfully, […]

Response Times, The Exponential Distribution and Poisson Processes

Response Times, The Exponential Distribution and Poisson Processes

I’m currently reading Luce’s “Response Times”. If you don’t know anything about response times, they are very easily defined: a response time is the length of time it takes a person to respond to a simple request, measured from the moment when the request is made to the moment when the person’s response is recorded. […]

Escher and Redemption: Using Cyclical Preferences to Overcome Hedonic Treadmills

This morning I started thinking about using violations of classical economic theory to increase well-being. The main idea is probably obvious to anyone familiar with the relevant literature on cyclical preferences and the hedonic treadmill, but I think it’s still worth articulating cleanly. Please let me know if you have a reference to existing literature […]

Failures of Self-Control: More Data

Just when you worried that preference reversals weren’t real: Professional bookmakers rarely accept bets from individuals who directly control the outcome of the bet. We analyse a unique exception to this rule and a potential policy innovation in the battle against obesity: a weight loss betting market. If obese individuals have time-inconsistent preferences then commitment […]