Counting is DIFFICULT

Eleven million? or 22 million? A new Yale/MIT study estimates the illegal alien population in the US somewhere in the range of 16.5 to 29.1 million (for us statisticians, that’s 22.8 ± 6.3 million). That’s a margin of error larger than the entire population of Los Angeles (3.99 million).  Worse yet, this estimate suggests that the Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey report of 11 million is a seriously low-ball estimate. The Center for Immigration Studies is in the low-ball camp, but their argumentum ab auctoritate seems a bit shrill, and unwilling to admit to the possibility of systematic bias in previous estimates.

QuantosMojados

Not that counting is as easy as it appears.  I regularly open my basic statistics classes with an audience-participation version of the classic Bouba-Kiki experiment, and collect response data by having two or more student volunteers count hands.  Invariably, the student counts are not all the same.  The confusion provides a “teaching moment” illustrating that the simplest measurement method is prone to variation.

Don’t believe me?  If you’re a Windows computer user, download the freebie version of Wildlife Counts, and see how well you can count a static population of animals in a short time.

WildlifeCountsTrainer

Caught in the Draft

In December of 1969, the Selective Service held a lottery to determine the order in which young men would be called up for the Draft.  My number was a low 53, and that set the course for much of my adult life.  Turns out, the odds were against me.

DraftLotteryNumbers

draft-rank-by-month

  • Want to run more analyses? This article from the Journal of Statistics Education shows the way.

 

News Flash! Men and Women are Different…

..despite the fact that some folks wish is wasn’t so

In fact, the National Institute of Health requires that sex be included as a variable in all studies:

My favorite line from the review: “The mammalian brain is clearly a highly sex-influenced organ.”  As anyone who’s observed young GIs or frat boys would know.  It takes a PhD to believe in something as patently absurd as neurosexism.

Tip from Maggie’s Farm, where it’s always a bit skeptical.

Update:  Looks like the SAT is owned and operated by neurosexists.  Like I tell my students, “You knew that, you just didn’t know you knew that.”

 

To every thing, there is a season

Most of us are aware of the seasonal cycle of influenza outbreaks, which for Americans peak in the winter. In a new paper, Micaela Martinez, PhD, a scientist at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, makes a case that all infectious diseases have a seasonal element. The “Pearl” article appears in the journal PLOS Pathogens. [my emphasis]

We all knew this, we just didn’t know we knew this.  Some folks are recognized as geniuses for explicating the obvious.  I’m look at you, Micaela Martinez.

CalendarOfEpidemics

Tip from Austin Bay writing at the Instatpundit,  who, like the BlogFather himself, can make even the most boring stuff sound interesting.

Hunting the Wild Placebo

The New York Times’ Gary Greenberg asks “What if the Placebo Effect Isn’t a Trick?” and gets some interesting answers.  Along the way, he tells the interesting history of the placebo and how it has become a standard in FDA=approved clinical trials.  My only question for the FDA is this:  if someone were to attempt to certify a placebo effect, what would you compare it to?PlaceboElixir
Tip from Drudge, who, like a blind squirrel, occasionally finds a fresh nut, and never leaves a permalink.