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The Rule of 3

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http://blog.belimitless.co/post/73416815446/the-rule-of-3

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The Baloney Detection Kit

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http://www.farnamstreetblog.com/2014/01/the-baloney-detection-kit/

From the site:

After reading 11 Rules for Critical Thinking, a thoughtful reader forwarded along this video of Michael Shermer the editor of Skeptic Magazine. Inspired by Carl Sagan’s idea that there is a lot of baloney out there, Shermer proposes a 10-point checklist to assess the believability of a claim and help us sift through the noise.

The Fourier Transform, explained in one sentence

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http://www.r-bloggers.com/the-fourier-transform-explained-in-one-sentence/

From the site:

The daunting formula involves imaginary numbers and complex summations, but Stuart’s idea is simple. Imagine an enormous speaker, mounted on a pole, playing a repeating sound. The speaker is so large, you can see the cone move back and forth with the sound. Mark a point on the cone, and now rotate the pole. Trace the point from an above-ground view, if the resulting squiggly curve is off-center, then there is frequency corresponding the pole’s rotational frequency is represented in the sound. This animated illustration (click to see it in action) illustrates the process:

11 Rules for Critical Thinking

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http://www.farnamstreetblog.com/2014/01/11-rules-for-critical-thinking/

From the site:

A fantastic list of 11 rules from some of history’s greatest minds. These are Prospero’s Precepts and they are found in AKA Shakespeare: A Scientific Approach to the Authorship Question:

    All beliefs in whatever realm are theories at some level. (Stephen Schneider)
    Do not condemn the judgment of another because it differs from your own. You may both be wrong. (Dandemis)
    Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider. (Francis Bacon)
    Never fall in love with your hypothesis. (Peter Medawar)
    It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts. (Arthur Conan Doyle)
    A theory should not attempt to explain all the facts, because some of the facts are wrong. (Francis Crick)
    The thing that doesn’t fit is the thing that is most interesting. (Richard Feynman)
    To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact. (Charles Darwin)
    It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so. (Mark Twain)
    Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong. (Thomas Jefferson)
    All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed, second, it is violently opposed, and third, it is accepted as self-evident. (Arthur Schopenhauer)

The Top Ten Worst Graphs

Author displays graphs and discusses how they could be better.

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http://www.biostat.wisc.edu/~kbroman/topten_worstgraphs/

Also this – how to display data badly!

http://www.biostat.wisc.edu/~kbroman/presentations/IowaState2013/graphs_combined.pdf

11 Simple Rules For Getting Along With Others

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http://www.farnamstreetblog.com/2013/09/dave-packards-11-simple-rules/

From the site:

Dave Packard’s 11 Simple Rules

    1. Think first of the other fellow. This is THE foundation — the first requisite — for getting along with others. And it is the one truly difficult accomplishment you must make. Gaining this, the rest will be “a breeze.”

    2. Build up the other person’s sense of importance. When we make the other person seem less important, we frustrate one of his deepest urges. Allow him to feel equality or superiority, and we can easily get along with him.

    3. Respect the other man’s personality rights. Respect as something sacred the other fellow’s right to be different from you. No two personalities are ever molded by precisely the same forces.

    4. Give sincere appreciation. If we think someone has done a thing well, we should never hesitate to let him know it. WARNING: This does not mean promiscuous use of obvious flattery. Flattery with most intelligent people gets exactly the reaction it deserves — contempt for the egotistical “phony” who stoops to it.

    5. Eliminate the negative. Criticism seldom does what its user intends, for it invariably causes resentment. The tiniest bit of disapproval can sometimes cause a resentment which will rankle — to your disadvantage — for years.

    6. Avoid openly trying to reform people. Every man knows he is imperfect, but he doesn’t want someone else trying to correct his faults. If you want to improve a person, help him to embrace a higher working goal — a standard, an ideal — and he will do his own “making over” far more effectively than you can do it for him.

    7. Try to understand the other person. How would you react to similar circumstances? When you begin to see the “whys” of him you can’t help but get along better with him.

    8. Check first impressions. We are especially prone to dislike some people on first sight because of some vague resemblance (of which we are usually unaware) to someone else whom we have had reason to dislike. Follow Abraham Lincoln’s famous self-instruction: “I do not like that man; therefore I shall get to know him better.”

    9. Take care with the little details. Watch your smile, your tone of voice, how you use your eyes, the way you greet people, the use of nicknames and remembering faces, names and dates. Little things add polish to your skill in dealing with people. Constantly, deliberately think of them until they become a natural part of your personality.

    10. Develop genuine interest in people. You cannot successfully apply the foregoing suggestions unless you have a sincere desire to like, respect and be helpful to others. Conversely, you cannot build genuine interest in people until you have experienced the pleasure of working with them in an atmosphere characterized by mutual liking and respect.

    11. Keep it up. That’s all — just keep it up!

Deep Habits: The Importance of Planning Every Minute of Your Work Day

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http://calnewport.com/blog/2013/12/21/deep-habits-the-importance-of-planning-every-minute-of-your-work-day/

From the site:

The image above shows my plan for a random Wednesday earlier this month. My plan was captured on a single sheet of 24 pound paper in a Black n’ Red twin wire notebook. This page is divided into two columns. In the left column, I dedicated two lines to each hour of the day and then divided that time into blocks labeled with specific assignments. In the right column, I add explanatory notes for these blocks where needed.

Why We Fail

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http://www.farnamstreetblog.com/2013/11/why-we-fail/

From the site:

So here we are today, the start of the twenty-first century. We have more knowledge than ever. We put that knowledge into the hands of people who are the most highly trained, hardest working, and skilled people we can find. Doing so has created impressive outcomes. As a society, we’ve done some amazing things.

Yet despite this, avoidable failures are common and persistent. Organizations make poor mistakes even when knowledge exists that would lead them to make different decisions. People do the same. The know-how has somehow become unmanageable. Perhaps, the velocity and complexity of information has exceeded our individual ability to deal with it. We are becoming inept.

Do You Know This Scientific Solution For Performing Well Under Pressure?

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http://www.dumblittleman.com/2013/11/do-you-know-this-scientific-solution.html#more

From the site:

Pressure gets the best of the common man because when he enters a high pressure situation, he reacts in a way he thinks is beneficial, but is actually harmful.

An amazing study on athletes was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. It found that athletes performed noticeably better in high pressure situations when they made a fist with their left hand. (source)

George E. P. Box Remembered

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http://www.qualitydigest.com/inside/fda-compliance-column/george-e-p-box-remembered.html

From the site:

On March 28, 2013, the world lost a person whom many consider to be a major contributor to the world of industrial statistics: George E. P. Box. Relatively unknown outside the world of statistics, Box was certainly very well known by those who have studied or practiced industrial statistics.

Personal Best

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http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/10/03/111003fa_fact_gawande?printable=true&currentPage=all

From the site:

I’ve been a surgeon for eight years. For the past couple of them, my performance in the operating room has reached a plateau. I’d like to think it’s a good thing—I’ve arrived at my professional peak. But mainly it seems as if I’ve just stopped getting better.

The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Volume I

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http://www.feynmanlectures.info/docroot/I_toc.html

Why I don’t believe in science…and students shouldn’t either

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http://blogs.plos.org/scied/2013/09/02/why-i-dont-believe-in-science-and-students-shouldnt-either/

From the site:

Science is how we describe the natural world, and if you search the web for “what is science,” three words tend to come up more often than others: observation, experiment, and evidence. Observations and experiments may not be perfect, even at the limits of our technologies, and interpretations may be flawed, but it’s the evidence that supports, or doesn’t, an argument that is the most important.  And we choose to either accept it, or not.

CCing to CYA

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http://brandonaaskov.com/blog/postid-2

From the site:

As more "process" is put in place, more barriers tend to come with it. The easiest way to spot red tape in an organization is to simply look at the CC field of an email. If you see managers, VPs, product owners, etc. in the CC field of an email sent to you, it probably means someone is pointing the finger at you and trying to cover their own ass. Sometimes, those kinds of emails are necessary, typically when the recipient is unresponsive. But when this happens for the vast majority of emails flying around, it’s a good sign that you’re missing out on a better culture.

Cheating the Ten Thousand Hour Rule

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http://mindframewithrobb.blogspot.com/2013/07/cheating-ten-thousand-hour-rule.html

From the site:

  The 10,000 hour rule helped to make Malcom Gladwell’s book, Outliers a smashing success. Gladwell got the idea from the work done by Dr. K. Anders Ericsson at Florida State University. Ericsson’s research showed it takes roughly 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to be considered a master of any given subject.  From Bill Gates to violinist Itzak Perlman to Michael Jordon, 10,000 hours of focused practice is necessary to reach expert status.

How You Can Instantly Improve Your Productivity and Focus Using Agile Results for Extreme Productivity

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http://www.dumblittleman.com/2013/07/how-you-can-instantly-improve-your.html#more

From the site:

  I work in a complex, high stress environment with a lot of moving parts as I’m sure many of you do too. Everybody needs to do more with less. There’s always more to do than there are hours in a day. There’s always information overload. It’s super competitive and everybody works hard to get better just to keep up.

The drive to succeed: How a Portland photographer put his life on a new course

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http://www.oregonlive.com/living/index.ssf/2013/06/the_drive_to_succeed.html#/0

From the site:

 

Three years ago McLaughlin, now 34, didn’t know how to golf. He worked as a commercial photographer in Portland. Then he chucked it all and set out on a journey to become a professional golfer by doing nothing but practice for six years.

He found a coach, developed a plan and for five months only putted. From 1 foot away. From 3 feet. Then 5. Then from all over. At six months he started chipping from the edge of the green, slowly moving farther away.

After 12 months he took his first full golf swing and at 18 months started practicing with a driver. On Dec. 28, 2011, 21 months into what he now calls The Dan Plan, McLaughlin played his first full round of golf with a full set of clubs.

Practice swings

Expert performance is similar to an iceberg, where only one-tenth of the iceberg is visible above the surface of the water and the other nine-tenths are hidden below it. When fans observe an elite athlete perform at a competition lasting a few hours they may not be aware of the over 10,000 hours of practice that preceded this display.

— K. Anders Ericsson,
Optimizing Performance in
Golf, Australian Academic
Press, 2001

McLaughlin is a bit of a seeker. He grew up in Georgia, spent a year at Boston University then another at the University of Georgia before traveling around Southeast Asia and Australia. He finished at Georgia and landed a newspaper photography job in Tennessee, but left after a year. In 2006 he moved to Portland, "because I liked the West Coast," and started working in commercial photography.

But he was restless, not particularly jazzed about his work and looking for something different. He considered graduate school or something really off-beat like drumming.

He came up with the idea of taking on golf in June 2009 while visiting his brother in the Midwest. They were goofing around on a par-3 course in Omaha when the topic turned to talent versus hard work and practice.

"That’s when I decided," McLaughlin says. "It just seemed to fit."

He returned to Portland and his job taking pictures of dental equipment at A-dec in Newberg. But he also started researching what it would take to become a top golfer. That’s when he ran across the work of K. Anders Ericsson, the Florida State researcher who has studied college students, musicians, dancers, chess players, athletes and what makes them top performers.

Ericsson’s work was popularized, somewhat inaccurately, in Malcolm Gladwell’s best-selling book "Outliers: The Story of Success," which examines how a person’s environment, personal drive and motivation affect his performance and success. Ericsson asserts that practice is more important than talent and that with at least 10,000 hours, and sometimes up to 10 years, of "deliberate" practice a person can become elite in his field.

We Learn Nothing

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http://www.farnamstreetblog.com/2013/03/we-learn-nothing/

From the site:

I’m quite enjoying satirical cartoonist and essayist Tim Krieder’s book We Learn Nothing, a wonderfully insightful book about human nature:

We tend to make up these stories in the same circumstances in which people come up with conspiracy theories: ignorance and powerlessness. And they share the same flawed premise as most conspiracy theories: that the world is way more well planned and organized than it really is. They ascribe a malevolent intentionality to what is more likely simple ineptitude or neglect. Most people are just too self-absorbed, well-meaning, and lazy to bother orchestrating Machiavellian plans to slight or insult us. It’s more often a boring, complicated story of wrong assumptions, miscommunication, bad administration, and cover-ups—people trying, and mostly failing, to do the right thing, hurting each other not because that’s their intention but because it’s impossible to avoid.

Lipid Researcher, 98, Reports On the Dietary Causes of Heart Disease

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http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130227151254.htm

Congrats Fred – great work! From the site:

Feb. 27, 2013 — A 98-year-old researcher argues that, contrary to decades of clinical assumptions and advice to patients, dietary cholesterol is good for your heart — unless that cholesterol is unnaturally oxidized (by frying foods in reused oil, eating lots of polyunsaturated fats, or smoking).

Data-driven science is a failure of imagination

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http://www.petrkeil.com/?p=302

From the site:

Rosling is right that data are important and that science uses statistics to deal with the data. But he completely ignores the second component of statistics: hypothesis (here equivalent to model or theory). There are two ways to define statistics and both require data as well as hypotheses: (1) Frequentist statistics makes probabilistic statements about data, given the hypothesis. (2) Bayesian statistics works the other way round: it makes probabilistic statements about the hypothesis, given the data. Frequentist statistics prevailed as a major discourse as it used to be computationally simpler. However, it is also less consistent with the way we think – we are nearly always ultimately curious about the Bayesian probability of the hypothesis (i.e. “how probable it is that things work a certain way, given what we see”) rather then in the frequentist pobability of the data (i.e. “how likely it is that we would see this if we repeated the experiment again and again and again”).

Probability Distributions

Reading about probability distributions – this is a good resource:

http://www.itl.nist.gov/div898/handbook/eda/section3/eda36.htm

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Another good resource:

http://isomorphismes.tumblr.com/post/18913494015/probability-distributions

Oh, and Wikipedia of course:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Probability_distribution

The Future of Science

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http://michaelnielsen.org/blog/the-future-of-science-2/

Writer/Author Michael Nielsen has important things to say about the future of science:

Why were Hooke, Newton, and their contemporaries so secretive? In fact, up until this time discoveries were routinely kept secret. Alchemists intent on converting lead into gold or finding the secret of eternal youth would often take their discoveries with them to their graves. A secretive culture of discovery was a natural consequence of a society in which there was often little personal gain in sharing discoveries.

The great scientific advances in the time of Hooke and Newton motivated wealthy patrons such as the government to begin subsidizing science as a profession. Much of the motivation came from the public benefit delivered by scientific discovery, and that benefit was strongest if discoveries were shared. The result was a scientific culture which to this day rewards the sharing of discoveries with jobs and prestige for the discoverer.

This cultural transition was just beginning in the time of Hooke and Newton, but a little over a century later the great physicist Michael Faraday could advise a younger colleague to “Work. Finish. Publish.” The culture of science had changed so that a discovery not published in a scientific journal was not truly complete. Today, when a scientist applies for a job, the most important part of the application is their published scientific papers. But in 1662, when Hooke applied for the job of Curator of Experiments at the Royal Society, he certainly was not asked for such a record, because the first scientific journals weren’t created until three years later, in 1665.

The adoption and growth of the scientific journal system has created a body of shared knowledge for our civilization, a collective long-term memory which is the basis for much of human progress. This system has changed surprisingly little in the last 300 years. The internet offers us the first major opportunity to improve this collective long-term memory, and to create a collective short-term working memory, a conversational commons for the rapid collaborative development of ideas. The process of scientific discovery – how we do science – will change more over the next 20 years than in the past 300 years.

Link to his other writings:

http://michaelnielsen.org/blog/writing/

Cracking Open the Scientific Process

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http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/17/science/open-science-challenges-journal-tradition-with-web-collaboration.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all&

The New England Journal of Medicine marks its 200th anniversary this year with a timeline celebrating the scientific advances first described in its pages: the stethoscope (1816), the use of ether for anesthesia (1846), and disinfecting hands and instruments before surgery (1867), among others.

For centuries, this is how science has operated — through research done in private, then submitted to science and medical journals to be reviewed by peers and published for the benefit of other researchers and the public at large. But to many scientists, the longevity of that process is nothing to celebrate.

The system is hidebound, expensive and elitist, they say. Peer review can take months, journal subscriptions can be prohibitively costly, and a handful of gatekeepers limit the flow of information. It is an ideal system for sharing knowledge, said the quantum physicist Michael Nielsen, only “if you’re stuck with 17th-century technology.”

Why Most Published Research Findings Are False

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http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.0020124

“There is increasing concern that most current published research findings are false. The probability that a research claim is true may depend on study power and bias, the number of other studies on the same question, and, importantly, the ratio of true to no relationships among the relationships probed in each scientific field. In this framework, a research finding is less likely to be true when the studies conducted in a field are smaller; when effect sizes are smaller; when there is a greater number and lesser preselection of tested relationships; where there is greater flexibility in designs, definitions, outcomes, and analytical modes; when there is greater financial and other interest and prejudice; and when more teams are involved in a scientific field in chase of statistical significance. Simulations show that for most study designs and settings, it is more likely for a research claim to be false than true. Moreover, for many current scientific fields, claimed research findings may often be simply accurate measures of the prevailing bias. In this essay, I discuss the implications of these problems for the conduct and interpretation of research.”

Group Sadoway Research

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http://sadoway.mit.edu/

“Establish the scientific underpinnings for technologies that make efficient use of energy and natural resources in an environmentally sound manner. The overarching focus of the group’s work is electrochemistry in non-aqueous media.”

On the Origin of Science Writers

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http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2010/07/29/on-the-origin-of-science-writers/

“Every now and then, I get an email from someone who’s keen to get into science writing and wants to know how I started. Whenever I reply, and I always try to, I’m always left with the nagging feeling that my experience is but one of a multitude of routes that people have taken. Science writing (whether you want to call it journalism, blogging, communication and so on) is a diverse field, as are the people working in it. It would be far more illuminating for a newbie to see a variety of stories rather than just one.

This was the origin of this thread of origins. I will be asking science writers around the world to do what they do best – tell a story – about the thing they know best – themselves. This will be a perpetual thread that I hope will act as a lasting resource for the writers of tomorrow to take inspiration from.”

What’s Halfway Between 1 and 9? Kids and Scientists Say 3

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ben-thomas/whats-halfway-between-1-and-9-kids-and-scientists-say-3_b_1982920.html?wpisrc=nl_wonk

“It’s likely that we love logarithmic shapes so much because logarithms are hardwired into our sensory pathways. Stevens’ power law explains that we perceive logarithmic increases in light, sound and heat (among lots of other stimuli) as if they were linear increases. For example, as heat rises along a tightening logarithmic curve — say, from 80º to 84º to 86º to 87º — our sense of touch is growing correspondingly more sensitive to each increase, causing us to perceive smaller and smaller changes as if they were equal. In short, we might describe that logarithmic temperature change as a linear rise from 80º to 84º to 88º to 92º.”

Time to eliminate patents altogether? Fed paper urges more open innovation

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http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/bulletin/time-to-eliminate-patents-altogether-fed-paper-urges-more-open-innovation/1324?tag=nl.e660&s_cid=e660

The patent system, intended to legally protect innovation and intellectual property, is essentially useless, rife with abuse and trolls, and should be disbanded. In spite of the enormous increase in the number of patents and in the strength of their legal protection, they have not accelerated R&D investments or technological progress.

Link to the paper they’re referring to:

http://research.stlouisfed.org/wp/2012/2012-035.pdf

Using Science to Sniff out Science That’s Too Good to Be True

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http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/crux/2012/09/19/when-science-is-too-good-to-be-true/

“Fraud is one of the most serious concerns in science today. Every case of fraud undermines confidence amongst researchers and the public, threatens the careers of collaborators and students of the fraudster (who are usually entirely innocent), and can represent millions of dollars in wasted funds. And although it remains rare, there is concern that the problem may be getting worse.”

Researchers identify biochemical functions for most of the human genome

http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2012/researchers-identify-biochemical-functions-for-most-of-the-human-genome.html

“Only about 1 percent of the human genome contains gene regions that code for proteins, raising the question of what the rest of the DNA is doing. Scientists have now begun to discover the answer: About 80 percent of the genome is biochemically active, and likely involved in regulating the expression of nearby genes, according to a study from a large international team of researchers.”

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