Part of the reason why we have been somewhat silent at Citizen Statistician is that it’s DataFest season, and that means a few weeks (months?) of all consuming organization followed by a weekend of super fun data immersion and exhaustion… Each year that I organize DataFest I tell myself “next year, I’ll do [blah] to make my life easier”. This year I finally did it! Read about how I’ve been streamlining the process of registrations, registration confirmations, and dissemination of information prior to the event on my post titled “Organizing DataFest the tidy way” on the R Views blog.

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After reading this review of a Theaster Gates show at Regan Projects, in L.A., I hurried to see the show before it closed. Inspired by sociologist and civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois, Gates created artistic interpretations of statistical graphics that Du Bois had produced for an exhibition in Paris in 1900. Coincidentally, I had just heard about these graphics the previous week at the Data Science Education Technology conference while evesdropping on a conversation Andy Zieffler was having with someone else.

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Some Reading for the Winter Break

It has been a long while since I wrote anything for Citizen Statistician, so I thought I would scribe a post about three books that I will be reading over break. The first book is Cathy O’Neil’s book, Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy [link to Amazon]. I am currently in the midst of Chapter 3. I heard about this book on an episode of 538’s podcast, What’s the Point?

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Measurement error in intro stats

I have recently been asked by my doctor to closely monitor my blood pressure, and report it if it’s above a certain cutoff. Sometimes I end up reporting it by calling a nurse line, sometimes directly to a doctor in person. The reactions I get vary from “oh, it happens sometimes, just take it again in a bit” to “OMG the end of the world is coming!!!” (ok, I’m exaggerating, but you get the idea).

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I meant to write this post last year when I was teaching a large course with lots of teaching assistants to manage, but, well, I was teaching a large course with lots of teaching assistants to manage, so I ran out of time… There is nothing all that revolutionary here. People have been using Slack to manage teams for a while now. I’ve even come across some articles / posts on using Slack as a course discussion forum, so use of Slack in an educational setting is not all that new either.

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On the first day of an intro stats or intro data science course I enjoy giving some accessible real data examples, instead of spending the whole time going over the syllabus (which is necessary in my opinion, but somewhat boring nonetheless). One of my favorite examples is How to Tell Someone’s Age When All You Know Is Her Name from FiveThirtyEight. As an added bonus, you can use this example to get to know some students’ names.

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Michael Phelps' hickies

Ok, they’re not hickies, but NPR referred to them as such, so I’m going with it… I’m talking about the cupping marks. The NPR story can be heard (or read) here. There were two points made in this story that I think would be useful and fun to discuss in a stats course. The first is the placebo effect. Often times in intro stats courses the placebo effect is mentioned as something undesirable that must be controlled for.

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Citizen Statistician

Learning to swim in the data deluge