Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: Non-Falsifiability (Score 3, Interesting) 157

by dorpus (#49230679) Attached to: Strange Stars Pulse To the Golden Mean

Similar claims have been made about how human anatomy allegedly conforms to mathematical constants. But when we make actual measurements of individuals, nobody fits the constants perfectly. What is the allowed margin of error? One can make just about any number be close to some "elegant" mathematical constant -- pi/2, pi^2, e/phi, whatever.

Similarly, today I just judged a paper about childhood obesity submitted to a scientific journal. Childhood obesity is confounded with low socioeconomic status, so how do we separate the two? Of course, children of lower socioeconomic status have poorer outcomes in terms of health, occupation, and mortality. (Incidentally, the children with the worst outcomes in terms of future health, income, and mortality are the underweight kids who look like walking skeletons. Most scientific papers on obesity exclude that population.)

Comment: Re:Narrowing the context (Score 1) 60

by dorpus (#48956177) Attached to: Test Shows Big Data Text Analysis Inconsistent, Inaccurate

Yes I did. There were a few thousand responses that fit on a single spreadsheet, and after an hour spent coming up with buckets and keywords for them, I couldn't find any exceptions from the above. I'll keep an eye out for future changes, though I doubt they will change much. I know the hospitals and their problems.

Comment: Narrowing the context (Score 2) 60

by dorpus (#48952985) Attached to: Test Shows Big Data Text Analysis Inconsistent, Inaccurate

I analyzed the free-text field on hospital surveys. A simple keyword search gave me very reliable results on what the patients were complaining about -- they fell into the categories of bad food (food, cafeteria, diet, tasted, stale), dirty rooms (dirty, rat, blood, bathroom), rude staff (rude, ignore, curt), noise (noise, loud, echo, hallway), TV broken (TV, Television, "can't see"). So if the context is narrow enough, even simple searches work.

I agree that more broadly worded questions require more sophistication. I've looked at word combinations and so forth, though I haven't really needed to use them yet in analyzing health care data. We would not trust a computer to parse a full doctor's report, no matter how sophisticated the software; that will require manual inspection, often by multiple people to agree on a consensus interpretation.

Comment: Spontaneous Quitting (Score 1) 178

by dorpus (#48886251) Attached to: New Nicotine Vaccine May Succeed Where Others Have Failed

Substance addicts will often spontaneously quite their habit when the pain of continuing the habit becomes greater than the pain of quitting. A year ago, I had severe stomach pains and was hospitalized for 3 days. I figured the chewing tobacco was upsetting my stomach, so I went cold turkey. As it turned out, it had nothing to do with the tobacco -- it was intestinal colitis. Anyway, I'm off of nicotine permanently now.

Comment: Except when scientists do it (Score 1) 497

by dorpus (#48875249) Attached to: Science By Democracy Doesn't Work

When mathematicians vote on whether to accept a new theorem, when psychiatrists vote on which diseases should be included in the latest version of DSM, when NIH panels vote on whether to fund a grant. No, science couldn't possibly be run by the tyranny of the mob that refuses to believe in ideas that are too new and radical.

Comment: I was in the same boat (Score 2) 280

by dorpus (#48612573) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Should a Liberal Arts Major Get Into STEM?

I graduated at the end of the Cold War ('93), so an engineering degree was worthless -- all the companies were laying off their engineers as quickly as possible. Combined with the fact that the engineering jobs I interned for or heard about were not very interesting (managing a chemical factory?), I got a liberal arts degree. I went into IT for about 10 years, but in the long run I just didn't care that much about the mechanics of computers. I eventually got a PhD in biostatistics after taking the prerequisite courses. Statistics has let me get into various different research projects without having to overspecialize. I work for a hospital system now and do different research studies every day.

Comment: Re:The Fix: Buy good Chocolate! (Score 1) 323

by RobertLTux (#48398401) Attached to: MARS, Inc: We Are Running Out of Chocolate

what i would like to see is more places that will sell you the NIBS (roasted beans)

Heck any of y'all that want to increase your chances with the ladies get going on how to make Chocolate FROM THE BEAN.

Being in the industry what would you suggest as to the grinder for somebody making for say 3-5 close friends??

Comment: Re:Hold on (Score 3, Interesting) 188

by MyLongNickName (#48370439) Attached to: Philae Lands Successfully On Comet

Now that I think about it, if Philae did not bounce off of the comet, then the screws must be doing their job and I would think the harpoons might not be needed at all. I would assume the harpoons were in the plans because the engineers couldn't be sure the screws would work on the surface of a comet.

How can you work when the system's so crowded?