Two interesting articles in the New York Times describing the Number Needed to Treat (NNT), the Number Needed to Harm (NNH), have prompted some interesting discussion among ASA members (at the members-only discussion board, unfortunately).

MediterraneanDietNNTThe Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine has a nice technical definition, fans of the NNT have posted a nice tutorial, and Steven Simon has a nice explanation of how to interpret NNT and NNH together. On the other hand, Dr Richard Goldstein at Vanderbilt University offers a webpage-sized grain of salt for interpreting NNT.

I, of course, smell a great homework assignment for my biostats students.

The Dancing Bear


We admire the Dancing Bear, not for the quality of his steps, but because he can dance at all.


I don’t need another lecture from President Dumbass

At least the Crusaders were fighting back against an encroaching Muslim empire.

Richard Fernandez sums it up best

Christians are the most persecuted religious group on earth today and since the majority of the dead and dying are Egyptians, Ethiopians, Nigerians, Sudanese, Iraqis or Filipinos it is hard to see how Obama or Coates can speak for them.  Even if it the Christian custom to forgive, neither man, living safe in the First World, has the obvious right to dispense absolution on behalf of desperately poor men trying to survive and keep their faith.

There is something grotesque about the cultural leaders of the Western left, most of whom are atheist or lapsed,  finding the effrontery to don the mantle of religious authority to counsel people dying in distant lands to sit back and take it in atonement for their non-existent sins.  Maybe First World Politicians and journalists should stick to what they know.  I won’t tell them what they know if they won’t tell me what I believe.

Citizens of the University, Arise!

This latest outbreak of passive-aggressive politically correct gender warfare is absolutely delicious.  “Mr.” and “Ms.,” are out, and who knows what is in.  While many of the commenting curmudgeons at Instapundit are suggesting replacement honorifics like “Comrade” or “Tovarich,” I think we should dig further back into revolutionary history and adopt the French Revolution’s “Citizen.”  The contradictory associations of Citizen Kane and the guillotine will confuse the educated, and an egalitarian application of the title will allow the lowliest of adjunct faculty to tweak a senior administrator in relative safety.

I think I’ll start with my students immediately, and spread it out from there.

Tip from the Instapundit.

Eigen-stuff, explained

Linear algebra got you stuck?  Check out this interactive demo that explains the hows and whys of eigenvalues and eigenvectors.  Roll your own.


Tip from the Geek Press.

I never did like that little snitch…

…and now someone agrees with me. ‘Elf on the Shelf’ conditions kids to accept surveillance state, says Laura Pinto, a digital technology professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.

You’re teaching (kids) a bigger lesson, which is that it’s OK for other people to spy on you and you’re not entitled to privacy,” she tells the Toronto Star.

She calls the elf “an external form of non-familial surveillance,” and says it’s potentially conditioning children to accept the state acting that way, too.

If you grow up thinking it’s cool for the elves to watch me and report back to Santa, well, then it’s cool for the NSA to watch me and report back to the government.

And to add insult to injury, parents PAY for this nosy little bastard at trendy bookstores like Barnes and Noble and Amazon.


Feynman on Science Education

After reading this, I think I have a lot of work to do revising my lessons.

Tip from Desiderius commenting at The Unz Review.