Upon this ROC I will build…

Real data is noisier than this

I was considering writing an April Fools day post, but life's too short to not blog about epidemiology and epistemology. As is often the case when I go back to Yale for alumni debates, I ended up in some extended theological debates.  In a conversation with one friend, we ended up on thse topic that used to form the core of my about section: what evidence would persuade me that Christianity (or another religion) is true? I think it's possible that I've set the bar for proof so high … [Read more...]

An Improbable Definition of Faith

faith-and-reason

Remember you can vote once per day for the About.com Atheism Awards.  I’m one of five nominees for Best Atheist Blog.  More details here. Today's problematic definition of 'faith' comes from Loftus, himself, as he expands his description of faith as "an irrational leap over the probabilities."  While emailing a Christian friend, he offered the following definition: In my opinion faith is what fills in the gaps of the probabilities. If, say there is a 70 % probability something is … [Read more...]

I’m like Beetlejuice, except you only have to say ‘Statistician’ once!

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, flipping coins

Remember you can vote once per day for the About.com Atheism Awards.  I'm one of five nominees for Best Atheist Blog.  More details here. The Bright Maidens, a trio of young Catholic women who try to dispel myths and misconceptions about their faith, frequently do themed blog carnivals, and this week their topic is "Instructing the Ignorant."  Elizabeth Hillgrove of Startling the Day covered a lot of topics in her post, but you can't be surprised to find out it was this one that caught my … [Read more...]

“So you’re on vacation at a science conference?”

Heck yeah I am!  Here are some quick highlights from my first day at the AAAS Annual Meeting: Fifty Years of the Pill: Risk Reduction and Discovery of Benefits Beyond Contraception How could I skip this session given the topic's recent prominence?  According to the panelists, the non-contraceptive side effects of the pill are varied.  It is prescribed to women with certain risk factors for ovarian cancer, because it lowers their chance of incidence.  It's also used as treatment for … [Read more...]

Parsing that “98% of Catholics use contraception” figure

sparse line

I'll be back with a longer post on the actual substance of the contraceptive mandate and my ideas about the reasonable limits to the idea that religious mandates exempt you from the law, but I can't pass up the chance to geek out about social science statistics and methodology. You've all probably heard the "98% of Catholic women use contraception" statistic cited by now, and people have started to take a closer look at the relevant study.  Let me chat you through some of the … [Read more...]

Komen Concedes (but it still sucks)

bucket for cure

Komen spent the last two days reaping a financial windfall from pro-life activists, after they pulled their funding for Planned Parenthood.  (Planned Parenthood had a funding surge, too, prompting a friend of mine to say the whole thing felt like a publicity stunt, or a pro-wrestling storyline).  Now, Komen has purged its new policy. But before any pro-choice readers I've got decide to put the money where their mouths are, let me make a plea that you not give Komen any of your money.  Not … [Read more...]

Look, let me say something pragmatic and hard-hearted

For the last two days, the story of Amelia Rivera has kept showing up in my RSS reader.  Amelia Rivera is a three-year-old girl who is developmentally disabled and suffers from Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome.  She needs a kidney transplant to live, and the hospital her parents went to declined to place her on the transplant list and also refused to let a family member donate a kidney to the girl. The other posts on Patheos on this topic (You love your kid? Too bad! and Determining who is "good … [Read more...]


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