Choosing ‘the best scientist’ requires a roadmap to the science of tomorrow (Part 2)


In my first post in this three-part series on the biomedical system, I discussed the fundamental flaw in using ‘the best’ indiscriminately, without acknowledging that, more often than not, there is no universal, Platonic ideal. In this post, I’m going to explore how choosing our ranking system requires a deeper conversation about where it is that we, as a scientific community, want to be in twenty or thirty years.[1] Continue reading

Here be dragons: the hidden dangers of suggestive correlations

I know that we both agree on this point: correlation does not mean causation. It’s an adage easy to remind ourselves whenever we see spurious correlations (as this pretty awesome site demonstrates).

But how about suggestive correlations? Those times when we can make a narrative about our data, when we can effortlessly turn that correlation into a causation?

Well, that’s a completely different ball game.

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Remembering my dad, Oliver G. Selfridge–Or, why I became a scientist

OliverSelfridge-BW earlyCS

My dad in the punch-card days of computer science.

Soon after I started this blog, a family friend asked me to write a post about why I became a scientist. Pretty much all of those reasons lie with my mom and my dad, both very impressive scientists. And since today would have been my dad’s birthday, it seems like the right time to delve into his role. Continue reading

A Scientist’s Behind-the-Scenes Look at FiveThirtyEight

Recently I decided to branch out and try my hand at writing an article for Nate Silver’s revamped FiveThirtyEight site, which espouses “data-driven journalism”. As a scientist, I was pretty excited about the idea of journalism using numbers more to support their articles and of increasing numerical literacy, more generally. And I was even more excited that they didn’t seem skittish about science.

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