It’s about who you know and trust

There is a pervasive idea in Western culture that humans are essentially rational, deftly sorting fact from fiction, and, ultimately, arriving at timeless truths about the world. This line of thinking holds that humans follow the rules of logic, calculate probabilities accurately, and make decisions about the world that are perfectly informed by all available […]

Let’s stop poisoning ourselves

A horrifying working paper looks at the impact of traffic pollution on students in schools downwind of a major US highway: We find that attending school where prevailing winds place it downwind of a nearby highway more than 60% of the time is associated with 0.040 of a standard deviation lower test scores, a 4.1 […]

What are school tests trying to measure?

I’ve just started reading The Lady Tasting Tea, the story of statistics in/and modern science. But one of the early examples has gotten me thinking – how would a scientist go about testing the general intelligence/retained knowledge of a group of students? Given: Whatever we measure is really part of a random scatter, whose probabilities […]

Everyone wants to be the hero

Whenever there’s an economic incentive to get people to believe something, you’re going to find organizations doing their best to get out the evidence that supports their case. But they may not think of themselves as propagandists. They may simply be engaging in the kind of motivated reasoning that all of us engage in. They’re […]

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