19 April 2011

I'd Be Perfectly Happy If Those Damn Kids Would Just Get Off My Lawn.

Happiness is U-shaped ... which explains why the middle-aged are grumpy (Stephen Adams, The Telegraph, 4/19/11)
Happiness follows a U-shaped curve during a person's lifetime, according to research showing that middle-aged people are the unhappiest.

Satisfaction with life starts to drop as early as a person's late 20s and does not begin to recover until well past 50, says Bert van Landeghem, an economist at Maastricht University in Belgium.

10 April 2011


I just watched Inception and my only real thought on it is this: its claim to being a great movie depends entirely on the interpretation that, at the end of the movie, Cobb is still dreaming. If he's in the real world, the movie is a fairly straight forward thriller with nothing interesting to say.

04 April 2011

5 Tons Of Bacon A Week

For all the "America is an idea" exceptionalism around here, this is who we are. And damn proud.

03 April 2011

What's A Blog For, If Not Pet Peeves

Hit and Run at Reason.com points us to a new report on cancer rates in the US:
Trend analysis showed that overall cancer incidence rates for all racial and ethnic groups combined decreased by 0.8% per year during the most recent period, 2003–2007 (Table 1); a statistically significant decrease of 0.6% per year was noted in women, whereas a non-statistically significant decrease of 0.8% per year was noted in men that was influenced by a recent (2005–2007) non-statistically significant increase in prostate cancer incidence. Incidence for prostate and breast cancers, two of the most frequently diagnosed cancers, showed possible changing trends. Cancer of the prostate showed a non-statistically significant annual increase of 3.0% in 2005–2007, after a statistically significant decrease in 2001–2005. The trend analysis of breast cancer in women showed a decrease from 1999 until 2007. However, inspection of the annual breast cancer incidence rates during this period (data not shown) revealed that, after a sharp decrease in rates in 2002–2003, the lower rates subsequently remained stable.
As we've discussed before, the point of statistics is to tell us whether two groups of measurements, which appear to be different, really are different. It looks like more men got prostate cancer last year -- the rate last year is higher than the rate the year before -- but is that a real difference, or is it just chance. We assume that it's chance unless the likelihood of getting these results randomly (given that there really is no difference) is less than 5%.

If the difference is not "statistically significant" then what we're saying is that the difference is, as far as we can tell, effectively zero. There is no difference, except for random chance. So, if the difference is effectively zero, THEN THE FACT THAT THE RATES WERE NOMINALLY DIFFERENT IS COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT. Nothing is more clearly indicative of someone trying to use statistics to lie to you then telling you the direction of a non-significant change.