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robertogreco : correlation   10

The World Beyond Kant's Head - Text Patterns - The New Atlantis
"Crawford does some of both, but in many respects the chief argument of his book is based on a major causal assumption: that much of what’s wrong with our culture, and with our models of selfhood, arises from the success of certain of Kant’s ideas. I say “assumption” because I don’t think that Crawford ever actually argues the point, and I think he doesn’t argue the point because he doesn’t clearly distinguish between illumination and causation. That is, if I’ve read him rightly, he shows that a study of Kant makes sense of many contemporary phenomena and implicitly concludes that Kant’s ideas therefore are likely to have played a causal role in the rise of those phenomena.

I just don’t buy it, any more than I buy the structurally identical claim that modern individualism and atomization all derive from the late-medieval nominalists. I don’t buy those claims because I have never seen any evidence for them. I am not saying that those claims are wrong, I just want to know how it happens: how you get from extremely complex and arcane philosophical texts that only a handful of people in history have ever been able to read to world-shaping power. I don’t see how it’s even possible.

One of Auden’s most famous lines is: “Poetry makes nothing happen.” He was repeatedly insistent on this point. In several articles and interviews he commented that the social and political history of Europe would be precisely the same if Dante, Shakespeare, and Mozart had never lived. I suspect that this is true, and that it’s also true of philosophy. I think that we would have the techno-capitalist society we have if Duns Scotus, William of Ockham, Immanuel Kant, and G.F.W. Hegel had never lived. If you disagree with me, please show me the path which those philosophical ideas followed to become so world-shapingly dominant. I am not too old to learn."
philosophy  correlation  causation  history  kant  alanjacobs  2016  matthewcrawford  illumination  hegel  whauden  via:lukeneff  individualism  atomization  dunsscotus  williamofockham 
july 2016 by robertogreco
You Can’t Trust What You Read About Nutrition | FiveThirtyEight
"Our foray into nutrition science demonstrated that studies examining how foods influence health are inherently fraught. To show you why, we’re going to take you behind the scenes to see how these studies are done. The first thing you need to know is that nutrition researchers are studying an incredibly difficult problem, because, short of locking people in a room and carefully measuring out all their meals, it’s hard to know exactly what people eat. So nearly all nutrition studies rely on measures of food consumption that require people to remember and report what they ate. The most common of these are food diaries, recall surveys and the food frequency questionnaire, or FFQ.

Several versions of the FFQ exist, but they all use a similar technique: Ask people how often they eat particular foods and what serving size they usually consume. But it’s not always easy to remember everything you ate, even what you ate yesterday. People are prone to underreport what they consume, and they may not fess up to eating certain foods or may miscalculate their serving sizes.

“The bottom line here is that doing dietary assessment is difficult,” said Torin Block, CEO of NutritionQuest, a company that conducts FFQs and was founded by his mother, Gladys Block, a pioneer in the field who began developing food frequency questionnaires at the National Cancer Institute. “You can’t get away from it — there’s error involved.” Still, there’s a pecking order in terms of completeness, he said. Food diaries rank high and so do 24-hour food recalls, in which an administrator sits the subject down for a guided interview to catalog everything eaten in the past 24 hours. But, Block said, “you really need to do multiple administrations to get an assessment of someone’s usual long-term dietary intake.” For study purposes, researchers are not usually interested just in what people ate yesterday or the day before, but in what they eat regularly. Studies that use 24-hour recalls tend to under- or overestimate nutrients people don’t eat every day, since they record only a small and perhaps unrepresentative snapshot."
nutrition  food  health  statistics  2016  christineaschwanden  diet  correlation 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Busy Hands, Busy Brains | American Craft Council
"Research shows that the most accomplished scientists are likely to be craftspeople."

"The results, published in 2013, revealed that these high-achieving individuals were far more likely to have extensive art and craft skills than the average American is. What’s more, the subjects themselves saw the connection: Art and craft, they said, stimulated their ability to innovate. The most productive innovators, it appeared, were those who kept up art and craft activity from childhood on.

So what does all this empirical evidence mean for public policy, private enterprise, and our daily lives? By cutting arts and shop classes from schools, are we failing to inspire the next Steve Jobs? Are our hobbies more important to our productivity and well-being than we know?"
science  craft  correlation  2015  creativitu  art  via:austinkleon  glvo  openstudioproject  lcproject  making 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Meta is Murder - Mills Baker's Internet Haus of Cards
"There’s enormous and increasing pressure on humans to achieve reach in their ideas, designs, morals, and policies. Despite having evolved in small groups with small-group habits of cognition and emotion, we now live in a global group and must coordinate hugely complex societies. The problems we face are problems at scale. Thus: reach is mandatory. A taxation, software design, or criminal justice solution that cannot be deployed at scale isn’t useful to us anymore; indeed, even opinions must scale up. For personal, political, governmental, commercial, literary, expediency-oriented, and many other reasons, we must have solutions that work for more human (H) units / instances, and H is always increasing (even as every sub-member of H is determined to be respected according to her or his unpredictable inimitability, range of action, moral agency, autonomy, freedom, etc.).

This pressure often inclines people to accept induction- or correlation-based models or ideas, which are inaccurate to varyingly significant degrees, in lieu of explanatory models. That is: in many situations, we’ll accept aggregates, groups, central plans, reductions, otherings, dehumanizations, short-hand-symbols, and so on because (1) they serve our ends, sometimes without any costs or (2) we have nothing else. In order to have explanations with reach in areas where we have no models, we commit philosophical fraud: we transact with elements and dynamics we cannot predict or understand and we hope for the best (better, it seems, than admitting that “I don’t know”). How we talk about speculative models, reductive schema, and plural entities —peoples, companies, generations, professions, events even— reveals a lot about how much we care for epistemological accuracy. And not caring about it is a kind of brutality; it means we don’t care what happens to the lives inaccurately described, not captured by our model, not helped by our policies, unaided by our designs, not included in our normative plan.

In politics, design, art, philosophy, and even ordinary daily thinking, being consciously aware of this tension, and of the pressure to exchange accuracy for reach, is as important as recognizing the difference between “guessing” and “knowing.” Otherwise, one is likely to adopt ideas with reach without recognizing the increased risk of inaccuracy that comes with it. One will be tempted to ignore the risk even if one knows it, tempted by how nice it is to have tidy conceptions of good and evil, friend and foe, progress and failure.

Reach is innately personally pleasing in part because it privileges the knower, whose single thought describes thousands or millions of people, whose simple position circumscribes civilization’s evolution, the history of religion, the nature of economics, the meaning of life. Exceptions be damned! But in general, if an idea has significant reach, it must be backed by an explanatory model or it will either be too vague or too inaccurate to be useful. And if it’s a political or moral idea, the innocent exceptions will be damned along with the guilty. Hence the immorality of reduction, othering, and inaccurate ideas whose reach makes them popular."
millsbaker  internet  scale  small  2014  politics  design  technology  reach  accuracy  knowing  guessing  induction  correlation  economics  globalization  dehumanization  othering  centralization  systems  systemsthinking  autonomy  freedom  agency  inimitability  notknowing  caring  progress  epistemology  thinking 
december 2014 by robertogreco
"This is really just an excuse to show a wonderful film about vegetables.

But it is also about how modern science has radically changed in a way that hasn’t been fully understood.

How it has gone from promising extraordinary new worlds of the future - to become a powerfully conservative force that holds progress back and tends to keep people in their place.

And the odd role vegetables have played in showing how this has happened.

There are two - parallel - universes of science. One is the actual day-to-day work of scientists, patiently researching into all parts of the world and sometimes making amazing discoveries.

The other is the role science plays in the public imagination - the powerful effect it has in shaping how millions of ordinary people see the world.

Often the two worlds run together - with scientists from the first world giving us glimpses of their extraordinary discoveries. But what sometimes happens is that those discoveries - and what they promise - get mixed up with other social and political ideas. And then the science begins to change into something else.

This happened in a dramatic way in the second half of the twentieth century. Science did very well in the second world war and after the war ambitious scientists promised they could build a new kind of world.

But by the 1970s it became clear that there were unforeseen consequences. It started with chemical pollution - especially DDT killing wildlife. But it was nuclear power that really broke the faith in the optimistic view of science - with the disaster at Three Mile Island in the US in 1979.

What emerged instead was a powerful distrust of the idea that science and technocratic experts could make a better world. Here is a good example of that new mood. It’s an anti-nuclear rally held in New York after Three Mile Island.

Jane Fonda makes a celebrity appearance - and her interview articulates the mood very well. I also love the protest song at the end.

“Just give me the restless power of the wind

Give me the comforting glow of the wood fire

But please take all your atomic poison power away”


But if the scientists had been naive - so too was much of the counter-reaction.

The truth was that it might not have been the science itself that was at fault - but the way the science had been distorted and corrupted by the economic and political demands made on it.

Here is a section of a film I made about what went wrong with the building of the first big nuclear reactors. It shows how the companies building them - like General Electric - were under enormous economic pressure and political demands because of the cold war. And the technologists designed giant systems they knew were potentially unsafe.


Then came the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. All the distrust of big science that had been building up exploded out - and science became the problem. Not the solution any longer.

There was one man who articulated this new view of science very powerfully. He was a German political scientist called Ulrich Beck who wrote a book just before the Chernobyl explosion called Risk Society. In the wake of the disaster it captured the public imagination - and has been incredibly influential on social and political thinking in the west ever since.

The book was powerful because it laid out a new way of looking at the world. Beck said that what the scientists and technologists had been doing with these giant projects was not building a new and glorious future. Without realising it they had been doing the opposite - they had been creating enormous new dangers for the world.

Beck used the word risk. The scientists he said had been “manufacturing risks”.

In the past the big risks to human societies tended to be freak events of nature - like earthquakes and volcanoes and storms. But now the risks came from human ingenuity and ambition. Much of what had been created had potentially world-threatening side effects - like atomic fallout and ecological disasters.

The world had been turned upside down. It wasn’t nature that was the real threat to human existence any longer - it was now human science and technology that had the power to destroy nature and the whole of the planet. And it wasn’t going to stop - this was a new and growing danger.

It meant - Beck said - that the whole role of politics would inevitably change. In the past politicians’ main aim had been to create a more equal society. That was now in decline. In the new “risk society” their main focus should be to create safety.

Beck didn’t mince his words:
“Whereas the utopia of equality contains a wealth of substantial and positive goals of social change, the utopia of the risk society remains peculiarly negative and defensive. Basically, one is no longer concerned with attaining something ‘good’, but rather with preventing the worst.

The dream of the old society is that everyone wants and ought to have a share of the pie. The utopia of the risk society is that everyone should be spared from poisoning”

That was written in 1986 - and it is remarkably prescient. Because that short paragraph pretty much describes the present day mood in our society. A world where individuals are constantly calibrating risks in their lives, while politicians are expected to anticipate and avoid all future risks and dangers.

And everyone gives up on the idea of creating equality, which allows inequality to increase massively.

Beck’s book is extraordinary - because he came from the liberal left. Yet he is basically saying that in the face of these new potential risks we will have to move away from the political idea of progress and social reform - and instead hunker down in the brace position and try and anticipate all dangers that might be coming at us out of the darkness.

To be fair to Beck he is ambiguous in the book about the kind of pessimistic and anxious society that will arise from this new approach. But he says it is inevitable. And in a way it is a very honest depiction of what happened to the liberal mind set at the end of the 1980s - how it retreated into a gloomy pessimism where the only response to events is “oh dear.”

I think the truth probably is that it was the baby boomers losing their youth - and finding themselves unable to face the fact of their own mortality - they started to project their fears onto the rest of society. But somehow people like Beck transformed this into a grand pessimistic ideology.

I want to put up part of an extraordinary documentary made during the events of 1986 that dramatically shows just how different our attitudes to risk used to be. It is the record of the group of Soviet technologists who volunteered to go into the ruined reactor core at Chernobyl after the disaster.

It is extraordinary because they all knew they would die. Their protection against the radiation - as you see in the film - was minimal. It consisted of taping up their cuffs and trouser legs and not much else. But they went in because it was the only way to find out how to contain the disaster.

It is so moving because they are men from an older world. To them risk is irrelevant. They believe in something grander - bigger than their own lives. There is also the most fantastic remote controlled camera - it is mounted on a toy tank and its images are great.

capitalism  media  science  adamcurtis  2014  politics  history  ulrichbeck  risk  statistics  measurement  society  perception  tomsanders  correlation  risksociety 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Correlation does not imply causation | re-educate seattle
"Everyone wants to prove their program works, and the way we do that is through cold hard data. Figuring out what to measure, however, is not simple. The Gates Foundation used to measure how many kids were getting into college, until it realized that it was measuring the wrong thing. Now, getting kids through college with a degree is the primary focus.

I suspect that, over time, the Gates Foundation will realize that it’s still measuring the wrong thing.

* * *

The cold hard data on the matter of education and income is clear: the more you learn, the more you earn. At least, that’s what we’ve convinced ourselves. I suspect that the relationship between the two is one in which correlation does not prove causation. In other words, it’s not clear that college graduates earn more because of what they learned in college.

Just off the top of my head, I can think of three friends who never finished college.


This is why I suspect the relationship between a college degree and success is merely correlation and not causation. What you learn in college often has very little to do with the work you do at your job. Would Allan be a better project manager or a better father if he’d spent more time analyzing Hemingway’s prose? Would Terry deliver better customer service if he’d passed Oceanography 101?

* * *

I know, I know. To suggest that kids don’t necessarily need to go to college is heresy in our society. But the relationship between academic learning and life satisfaction is not clear.

The thing that kids get out of college—the reason they’re able to earn more money after graduation— is they’ve completed a process in which they had to set a goal that’s achievable over time, in which they had to develop the self-discipline to overcome obstacles and see it through to the end. That’s a valuable process that some people learn in college. Allan, Dan, and Terry learned it some other way.

* * *

In the end, the whole point of this stuff is to figure out how we can maximize our happiness, right? We want to figure out how to be successful, contributing members of society because we want to be happy.

Well, consider this quotation from Martin Seligman, past president of the American Psychological Association and the father of the Positive Psychology movement. He’s a scientist, which means he makes his living analyzing cold hard data. “As a professor, I don’t like this, but the cerebral virtues—curiosity, love of learning—are less strongly tied to happiness than interpersonal virtues like kindness, gratitude and capacity for love.”

So, what exactly should we be measuring?"
measurement  quantification  stevemiranda  2014  college  colleges  universities  unschooling  deschooling  life  living  learning  schooliness  correlation  metrics  graduationrates 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Why Do Music Students Have Higher SAT Scores?
“A more candid appraisal of the current body of research literature might suggest that music is somehow attractive [to those] who are already more likely to perform well academically, and as such, may serve as an important artistic outlet with positive developmental benefits for those students who choose to study it.”
music  education  correlation  sat  testtaking  via:robinsonmeyer  2013  research 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Now I Understand Why Bill Gates Didn’t Want The Value-Added Data Made Public « GFBrandenburg's Blog
"In any introductory statistics course, you learn that a graph like the one below is a textbook case of “no correlation”. I had Excel draw a line of best fit anyway, and calculate an r-squared correlation coefficient. Its value? 0.057 — once again, just about as close to zero correlation as you are ever going to find in the real world.

In plain English, what that means is that there is essentially no such thing as a teacher who is consistently wonderful (or awful) on this extremely complicated measurement scheme. How teacher X does one year in “value-added” in no way allows anybody to predict how teacher X will do the next year. They could do much worse, they could do much better, they could do about the same.

Even I find this to be an amazing revelation. What about you?

And to think that I’m not making any of this up. (unlike Michelle Rhee, who loves to invent statistics and “facts”.)"
publicschools  education  politics  lies  policy  correlation  statistics  learning  teaching  michellerhee  valueadded  schools  nyc  2012  via:tom.hoffman  billgates 
march 2012 by robertogreco
collision detection: TV watching and education "almost perfectly inversely correlated", says Hunch
"How much TV do you watch? What’s the highest level of educational level you’ve attained?
tv  hunch  education  television  data  statistics  correlation 
january 2010 by robertogreco

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