Benford's law is an amazing thing. If you know the probability distribution that classes of "natural" numbers should have, you can detect where people might be faking data: phony tax returns, bogus scientific studies, etc.

When estimating the cost of a bunch of purchases, a useful heuristic is rounding to the nearest dollar. (In fact, on US income tax returns, one is allowed to omit the cents). If prices were uniformly distributed, the following two heuristics would be equally accurate: * Rounding each item up or down to the nearest dollar and summing * Rounding each...

HOW TO DISPLAY A LINE PLOT WITH COUNT INFORMATION? In a previously-mentioned paper Sharad and your DSN editor are writing up, there is the above line plot with points. The area of each point shows the count of observations. It’s done in R with ggplot2 (hooray for Hadley). We generally like this type of plot,

SOME EMPIRICAL BASES FOR CHOOSING CERTAIN RISK REPRESENTATIONS OVER OTHERS This week DSN posts some thoughts (largely inspired by the work of former colleagues Stephanie Kurzenhäuser, Ralph Hertwig, Ulrich Hoffrage, and Gerd Gigerenzer) about communicating risks to the general public, providing references and delicious downloads where possible. Representations to use less often Single-event probabilities as

HOMOPHILY + MAPS WITHOUT MAPPING SOFTWARE In the past, Decision Science News has posted about homophily (“birds of a feather shop together“) and cool, lightweight visualizations (“maps without map packages in R“). Today, both topics come together in Eric Fischer’s fascinating set of images on Flickr called “Race and Ethnicity”(*). According to Eric: Red is

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