Ideas

Keep your files in sync for free

November 19, 2011 | dan

It is not uncommon to have two computers at work, four at home and a server out on the wild, wild internet (that's what we have, anyway ... wait, we forgot one in London). How to keep all these files in sync? Here are our file synchronization tips. [Read more...]

Do cents follow Benford’s Law?

October 5, 2011 | dan

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. [Read more...]

Dollars and cents: How are you at estimating the total bill?

September 30, 2011 | dan

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 ... [Read more...]

How many NYC restaurants get As on their health inspections?

August 15, 2011 | dan

Decision Science News is no stranger to misleading infographics in free New York newspapers. We could stop reading them entirely, but we find that playing "spot the infographic flaw" makes time fly on the subway. Recently we saw the above graphic in a paper called Metro. Can you spot the ... [Read more...]

On not going viral

August 1, 2011 | dan

This week the reader is directed to Messy Matters to read up on research conducted by Sharad Goel, Duncan Watts and Dan Goldstein in which they hunted for traces of "viral" diffusion on Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo!, and beyond. The results run counter to mainstream intuition. [Read more...]

The housing bubble by city

March 17, 2011 | dan

The housing bubble by city. Miami sailed high and fell far. Detroit rose modestly and but dropped more than it went up. Dallas held steady. DC is enjoying a bit of renewed growth, but are in and New York yet to fall? [Read more...]

Area plots unmasked

December 15, 2010 | dan

RESULTS OF THE GREAT AREA PLOT QUIZ If you are the type of reader who remembers things from last week, you may remember the great area plot quiz we had running. This week, we are excited to announce that the results are in. The plot above shows answers to the ... [Read more...]

Once again, chart critics and graph gurus welcome

December 10, 2010 | dan

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 ... [Read more...]

Some ideas on communicating risks to the general public

December 3, 2010 | dan

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 ... [Read more...]

Visualizations of US neighborhoods by race and ethnicity

September 22, 2010 | dan

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”(*).  ... [Read more...]

Birds of a feather shop together

August 31, 2010 | dan

PREDICTING CONSUMER BEHAVIOR FROM SOCIAL NETWORKS This week, Decision Science News is doing a special cross-posting with Messy Matters. The post below is by Sharad Goel and describes work that he and your Decision Science News editor Dan Goldstein are jointly undertaking at Yahoo! Do you know what the #$*! your ...
[Read more...]

Which chart is better?

August 10, 2010 | dan

CHART CRITICS, GRAPHICS CURMUDGEONS, COME ONE COME ALL Once upon a time there was this graph (graph 1). Andrew Gelman went all graphics curmudgeon on it, calling it an “ugly, sloppy bit of data graphics“, so it became this graph (graph 2). Now the question is, which is better: graph 2 or graph 3? ...
[Read more...]

The counterfactual GPS!

July 23, 2010 | dan

WHAT IF YOUR GPS TOLD YOU WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF YOU HAD TAKEN THE OTHER ROUTE? Not long ago, your Decision Science News editor was planning a trip to a book group meeting along with another member. The monthly book group takes place in Cove Neck Long Island, about ...
[Read more...]

Navigate the Bermuda Triangle of Mediation Analysis

July 6, 2010 | dan

MYTHS AND TRUTHS ABOUT AN OFTEN-USED, LITTLE-UNDERSTOOD STATISTICAL PROCEDURE If you go to a consumer research conference, you will hear tales of how experiments have undergone particular statistical rites: the attainment of the elusive crossover interaction, the demonstration of full mediation through Baron and Kenny’s sacred procedure, and so ...
[Read more...]

Maps without map packages

July 1, 2010 | dan

LATITUDE + LONGITUDE + OVERPLOTTING FIX = MAPS Decision Science News is always learning stuff from colleague, physicist, mathlete, and all-around computer whiz Jake Hofman. Today, it was a quick and clean way to make nice maps in R without using any map packages: just plot the latitude and longitude of your data ...
[Read more...]

Tuesday’s child is full of probability puzzles

May 28, 2010 | dan

COUNTERINTUITIVE PROBLEM, INTUITIVE REPRESENTATION Blog posts about counterintuitive probability problems generate lots of opinions with a high probability. Andrew Gelman and readers have been having a lot of fun with the following probability problem: I have two children. One is a boy born on a Tuesday. What is the probability ...
[Read more...]
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