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Primary Deposits: Steven Pinker and archaeology
Crow Creek, South Dakota. This is a notorious site. It is a mass grave, the remains of a massacre. Using this site as just automatically representative of prehistoric mortality is senseless, especially when your sample is already small and biased. There are no mass graves from Europe in the 20th century? What would Pinker’s state-level death rates look like if he used cemetery data (as he should have)?

Vedbaek, Denmark, and Boggebakken, Denmark. This is bad. Unless there are two Mesolithic sites with 17 burials in Vedbaek, these are the same site. Keeley calls it Vedbaek; Bowles calls it Boggebakken. The site is sometimes called Vedbaek-Boggebakken (e.g., Jochim 2011:127). If these are the same site (as they certainly seem to be), this is probably the most egregious error in Pinker’s data. The rest of the errors can be attributed to lack of understanding of the evidence and appropriate methods. But, this, THIS, is sheer laziness. He made no effort to clean his data.
argument  history  review  book  reference  stats  data-analysis  pinker 
11 hours ago by kmt
The Tyranny of Metrics - Text Patterns - The New Atlantis
Concrete interests of power, money, and status are at stake. Metric fixation leads to a diversion of resources away from frontline producers toward managers, administrators, and those who gather and manipulate data.

When metrics are used by managers as a tool to control professionals, it often creates a tension between the managers who seek to measure and reward performance, and the ethos of the professionals (doctors, nurses, policemen, teachers, professors, etc.). The professional ethos is based on mastery of a body of specialized knowledge acquired through an extended process of education and training; autonomy and control over work; an identification with one’s professional group and a sense of responsibility toward colleagues; a high valuation of intrinsic rewards; and a commitment to the interests of clients above considerations of cost. 
management  work  argument  intelligence  technology  measurement  office  reference 
11 hours ago by kmt
You need 16 times the sample size to estimate an interaction than to estimate a main effect - Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science
In causal inference, it is often important to study varying treatment effects: for example, a treatment could be more effective for men than for women, or for healthy than for unhealthy patients. Suppose a study is designed to have 80% power to detect a main effect at a 95% confidence level. Further suppose that interactions of interest are half the size of main effects. What is its power for detecting an interaction, comparing men to women (say) in a study that is half men and half women? Suppose 1000 studies of this size are performed. How many of the studies would you expect to report a statistically significant interaction? Of these, what is the expectation of the ratio of estimated effect size to actual effect size?
stats  datascience  reference  argument  read-later 
2 days ago by kmt
Online/offline continuous integration : Inside 245-5D
We have entered this discussion under the assumption that reproducibility is our terminal value. But it's not: it's the mechanism by which we can achieve other goals. In the setting of continuous integration, what we really care about is a system that gives us signal about whether or not a given change set is correct or breaks things. A non-reproducible build interferes with this goal only in the sense that's its harder to tell if a change set has broken things if some random dependency has self-updated itself and broken your build. If this happens, you are blocked: you won't get clean signal until you fix the dependency problem. Broken window theory demands you drop everything and fix the build.

Clearly, we don't care if our dependencies are getting silently upgraded as development proceeds; in fact, we might prefer it, because "automatic" is less friction than "manual", at least when it works. What we do care about is the ability to block the upgrade if it is known to break us or revert the upgrade if we find out later that it caused some breakage.
development  argument  nixos  devops  reference 
3 days ago by kmt
Primary Deposits: Steven Pinker and archaeology
This is my second post on Steven Pinker’s Better Angels of Our Nature (the first is here). This book is such a steaming pile, I need to vent but really don't want to spend time on it. So I am going to end this particular foray into the colonial mindset and finish up on Chapter 2, which is the main archaeological and anthropological section.
history  argument  whig-history  reference 
4 days ago by kmt
The Nordic Myths That Never Seem to Die – People's Policy Project
All conservatives writing in this genre reach the conclusion that the Nordics prove that capitalism is good and socialism is bad, but they cannot decide among themselves whether the Nordics are a positive example of capitalism or a negative example of socialism. Geraghty’s piece falls into the latter category, though frankly that seems to be out of step with the conservative trend on the subject these days.
argument  neoliberalism  capitalism  reference 
5 days ago by kmt
Peace as Armageddon | Tim Shorrock
The real story here is that too many liberals and too many journalists simply can’t accept the idea that the two Koreas may have accomplished this feat on their own, without the sober adult guidance of the American intelligensia. An independent Korea? A South Korean president driving American foreign policy? As the past several news cycles have shown in embarrassing detail, such things are simply unthinkable to the wised-up U.S. pundit caste.
politics  negotiation  diplomacy  argument  reference 
5 days ago by kmt
Literate DevOps
Maintaining servers falls into two phases:

Bang head until server works
Capture effort into some automation tool like Puppet or Chef.
Recently, I’ve been playing around with making the first phase closer to the second. For lack of a better word, I’m calling it literate devops.
emacs  org-mode  dev  devops  argument  reference 
7 days ago by kmt
Mythical Retention Data & The Corrupted Cone – Work-Learning Research
I include these two examples to make two points. First, note how one person clearly stole from the other one. Second, note how sloppy these fabricators are. They include a Confucius quote that directly contradicts what the numbers say. On the left side of the visuals, Confucius is purported to say that hearing is better than seeing, while the numbers on the right of the visuals say that seeing is better than hearing. And, by the way, Confucius did not actually say what he is being alleged to have said! What seems clear from looking at these and other examples is that people don’t do their due diligence—their ends seems to justify their means—and they are damn sloppy, suggesting that they don’t think their audiences will examine their arguments closely.
education  argument  reference  psychology  methodology  science 
7 days ago by kmt
Billion-dollar debts control the future of tech industry | Opinion | The Guardian
There’s no understanding the future of technology without understanding the future of its funders. And they have changed dramatically over the last three decades. First it was the military. Then the venture capitalists. Today, another chapter begins: massive funds, with billions to spend and often linked to governments, are technology’s new masters.
europe  finance  politics  argument  technology  morozov  reference 
7 days ago by kmt
Body Work | Barbara Ehrenreich
Working out very much resembles work, or a curious blend of physical labor and office work. Members not only lift weights, for example; they often carry clipboards on which to record the number of reps and sets and the amount of weight lifted for each workout, like a supervisor monitoring a factory worker’s performance. Socializing is rare, if only because gym members are increasingly plugged into their iPods and can be alerted to an attempted communication (such as “May I work in?” or “Are you done with this now?”) only by frantic waving and gestures.
politics  argument  read-later  americana 
10 days ago by kmt

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