Debunking the NYT’s Numbers on Contraception

graphs

You may have seen the New York Times's much shared infographic on contraception failure rates, and I'm here -- statistics cop badge in hand -- to tell you that it ain't necessarily so.  There are some huge methodological flaws in the way that the NYT chose to model the risk of unplanned pregnancy over ten years, and I'm explaining just how badly they went wrong at The American Conservative. The NYT generated these graphs by looking only at failure rates for contraception over one year, and then … [Read more...]

And, now, some #natesilverfacts

nate silver

A Dennett post later today, I promise, but I'm terribly amused by the #natesilverfacts meme on twitter.  Here are my favorites: @mdlevinson: Nate Silver's great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson's name is going to be Hari Seldon. #natesilverfacts@temiri: Nate Silver once walked over each of the bridges in Konigsberg exactly once. #natesilverfacts@dilefante: Nate Silver's samples have only a median and a mode. Because no number would be mean to Nate Silver. … [Read more...]

Happy Higgs Day!

Today, all over America (land of science enthusiasts) fireworks will be set off in remembrance of the many particle collisions that it took to bring our observations of the decay products of the Higgs up above a five sigma confidence interval.  If you need a refresher or just haven't followed all this very closely, you'll definitely want to watch PhD Comics' animated explanation below (you'll want to see it full screen).The best print coverage I've seen so far today is, unsurprisingly, at … [Read more...]

And Speaking of Sample Size Problems…

family sample size

Remember that study contrasting outcomes for children of gay parents with children in other kinds of families?  We discussed a couple methodological concerns here already, but I want to give them credit where it's due.  The New Family Structures Survey put together a very nice interactive visualization for their data.  And, even more credit, their sample sizes and demographic breakdowns are available right on the first page of the visualization.People have complained about how few children in … [Read more...]

Returning to Turing Test Methodology

ITT sample size

I'm a little disappointed in the commentariat for not bitching me out when I showed you the winners and losers in the Christian and Atheist rounds of the Turing Test without ponying up sample size numbers.  This year, each entry had its own survey link, so the number of respondents was not constant across a round.  A fairly predictable trend emerged.Note: This isn't the total number of respondents, it's the N for the number of self-declared atheists judging the first round and self-declared C … [Read more...]

Data! Data! Data! [Blogathon 12/12]

This post is number twelve of twelve for the Secular Student Alliance Blogathon.  I'm responding to comments in the "Go Ahead, Tell Me What's Wrong with Homosexuality" thread all day.  You can read an explanation of the Blogathon and a pitch for donations (even if you're religious) here.At 9am this morning, we kicked of this blogathon on homosexuality with methodological questions about statistics and social science, and that's how we're going to fracking end it!William Saletan is c … [Read more...]

Are Civil Rights Asymmetrical? [Blogathon 7/12]

This post is number seven of twelve for the Secular Student Alliance Blogathon.  I'm responding to comments in the "Go Ahead, Tell Me What's Wrong with Homosexuality" thread all day.  You can read an explanation of the Blogathon and a pitch for donations (even if you're religious) here. In the last two posts, I was focusing on what kind of data would make us think that gay marriage was a bad idea, but I think there's a different question lurking in the background.  Why are we on … [Read more...]


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