7 Quick Takes (9/23/11)

7 Quick Takes (9/23/11) September 23, 2011


Sorry to be late on my post on gender-disparity of choice in parenting (a follow-up to “A Soup Nazi Approach to Sex” and “Sexual Responsibility and Culpability“).  I’ve had a busier week at work and in the evening than I anticipated.  I promise you’ll have it by Saturday.  Can I make it up to you all by letting you know that licking skulls is a frequently used field test among physical anthropologists?

No foolin’.


In another case of counter-intuitive methods of inference, John Cook will explain this strange occurrence:

During WWII, statistician Abraham Wald was asked to help the British decide where to add armor to their bombers. After analyzing the records, he recommended adding more armor to the places where there was no damage!

Click thru to find out why.

Hint: selection bias.

(h/t Marginal Revolution)


One last thinking-hard-about-data link.  Chris Blattman identified a new working paper that found that:

Using state-level variation in the timing of political reforms, we find that an increase in female representation in local government induces a large and significant rise in documented crimes against women in India.

Our evidence suggests that this increase is good news, driven primarily by greater reporting rather than greater incidence of such crimes.

This uptick as the result of reporting can cause a lot of problems for evaluation programs that rely on a decrease in reported incidents of bullying, cheating, sexual assault, etc.

My alma mater is still in the throes of a Title IX complaint that alleges Yale created a hostile environment for women by suppressing reports of sexual assault and pressuring victims to not pursue reporting crimes in any channel that brought in external attention.  I don’t think the administrators who are behind that policy are necessarily misogynist; I think they’re failing to recognize they’ve focused on optimizing for the evaluation mechanism, not the goal.


Those three examples exhaust my collection of links on that topic, so let me move on to an exciting (and timebound) contest.  The 2011 Charles Prize for Poetry contest is drawing to a close, but you still have until September 30th to submit a poem related to science generally or medicine specifically.  Sadly, my entry last year failed to place.  Originally drafted in AP Chemistry, my haiku is below for your enjoyment/eye-rolling:

Organic Chemistry

My words the titrant
your analyte cheeks blushing
phenolphthalein pink

(This wikipedia link on titration should help if you’re lost)


In a very exciting development at work this week, the CEO has changed our style guide to bring back the oxford comma.  Not sure why this comma is critical?  Let this cartoon from Language Log help you out:

When we heard the comma was now kosher, my whole department erupted in cheers.  I kid you not.


TYWIWDBI has an interesting post up discussing music as treatment for depression, but I’m just really pleased that the entry led me back to an excellent video.

I don’t have a strong appreciation of classical music.  I like reading about it (especially in Gödel, Escher, Bach), but I don’t much enjoy listening.  My ear can’t pick out the patterns and motifs.

That’s why I love the video below.  I ran into this visualization of Beethoven’s 5th in a discussion of synesthesia.  Seeing the melodies laid out as shapes makes it a lot easier for me to see the structure of the piece.


Finally, and apropos of nothing at all: a Wall Street Journal article describing a workshop on historical undergarments for romance novelists to help them ensure their ripped bodices are not anachronistic.

[Seven Quick Takes is a blog carnival run by Jen of Conversion Diary]

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  • Hibernia86

    I'm also a strong supporter of the Oxford comma.

  • Leah. I wanna troll you for once. I was expecting an angry harangue for my bad distinction between sci-fi and fantasy. All I get is disinterest.Do you not love me anymore? Do the sweet nectars of the hivemind no longer bring life to you?There was a LeahShe did quite a bit of theblogging hey!There's my haiku.I don't know why. Maybe it's because my students are taking a test and I have nothing to do.

  • I'm so glad I'm not the only one obsessed with the Oxford comma!

  • I never would have considered that romance novelists would have conferences or workshops on historical undergarments.

  • “Truly, truly I say unto you, not a jot shall be taken from the law” etc.
    Does this mean Jesus likes more commas? 😛