Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Walkabout wednesday: the reason I'm inefficient.

Yes. This is why I'm so inefficient. ht: Evan Cooch. Really. It has nothing to do with procrastibooking.

My Health

This is a nice little peer-reviewed review of where the story is on saturated fat in the diet. The upshot is that replacing saturated fat in the diet with carbohydrate is probably a bad idea; replacing it with poly- or mono-unsaturated fats might help a little bit. Or you could just stop worrying about fat altogether. 

I reviewed Kaayla Daniels' "The Whole Soy Story" a few weeks ago. Coach Mike liked it, and had a couple more studies on soy that I need to follow up on. I'll be honest; any study that shows brain shrinkage scares me much, much more than a 20% increase or decrease in my risk of heart disease. Also an interesting link on how much soy is eaten in Japan (hint: not very much).

Truvia is fine, but definitely not natural. That's reassuring, because I've been using it as a sweetener for the past year or so. Finding out the backstory of Truvia as a highly refined product from industrial food giants Cargill and Coca-cola was less reassuring.

Your Education

What you study as an undergraduate affects what you earn, quite a lot. I find some aspects of this list depressing. We pay people in marketing research much more than secondary school teachers, and elementary school teachers earn less than someone with any associates degree. That's like an active penalty for choosing to follow the career that ultimately drives economic growth for the whole country. Also the conclusion is that a college degree is a worthwhile investment has an important caveat: that you didn't pay too much for it. I bet there comes a point where the cost of the degree outweighs the benefit. 

Americans, and indeed, most people in the world, badly overestimate the unemployment rate. One way to interpret this is to think everyone is an ignoramus. However, it is well known that people have trouble understanding probabilities and percentages. The unemployment rate is usually reported as a percentage, but the survey asked for estimates on a frequency scale. Maybe we should report the jobless rate on a frequency scale too? 1 in every 20 working age people are unemployed and looking for work. Sounds much better than 6% to me!

And here's a response to that article citing studies where people get it right when asked for a percentage. Called it!

Our Environment

Chris Helzer reminds us that "Land managers make assumptions all the time. If we didn’t, we’d never get anything done." I agree, but would go one step farther: those assumptions represent implicit models. 

I love a good visulization, and this video of global CO2 distribution across a single year is amazing. I'd never thought about heterogeneity in CO2 levels before, but it makes sense that it's not constant as the sources and sinks vary in space as well. I'd always assumed that diffusion would even things out more. The concentrations in the Arctic are way, way higher than in the Antarctic for example. I wonder if that contributes to the differences in how the Arctic and Antarctic ice packs are changing with time. 

Does our military know something we don't about global warming? Um. Yes! And they've known it for a while, apparently. I liked this quote from Adrian Sokoloff in 1990:
The central problem is that outside the security sector, policy processes confronting issues with substantial uncertainty do not normally yield policy that has high economic or political costs.
So in 1990 they recognized a threat to U.S. security and infrastructure, and expected that the government would be unable to react in time.

Waaaay, waaay back, when I was a PhD student at the University of Adelaide, I noticed that the size of protected areas in South Australia was negatively correlated with rainfall. Makes sense, higher rainfall means more ag productivity. This tradeoff became the basis for the game Buy-O-diversity. And it turns out that this sort of inequality in representation holds globally too.



Monday, November 17, 2014

Why I don't do backwards selection

I use model averaging alot. My heart always sinks when I get a comment like this from a reviewer:
Why not use F-tests to actually pick one model instead of doing the model averaging?
Why not indeed?

Friday, November 14, 2014

How should scientists engage the public?

I confess to beating a dead horse recently. In the spirit of being positive, one should not just pulp the corpse but also look at alternative models for communicating science.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Monitoring results

I just received the latest bloodwork results after 3 months of the new drug regime.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Walkabout Wednesday: Michael Pollan, for profit colleges, and wolves.

Michael Pollan doesn't like the paleo diet, for profit college degrees are worthless, and ... wait for it, WOLVES!

Science, in 61 seconds!

The definition of science by Richard Feynman.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Killing the linear deficit model of science communication

The idea that "the public" will make better decisions about health and the environment "if only they knew what I know" is widespread among ecologists and nutrition scientists. And probably other scientists too. Science-policy interface experts call this idea the "linear deficit" model. And it's wrong.