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Comment: Re:So you want to retire a statistical term... (Score 1) 312

by Fouquet (#45973091) Attached to: Why Standard Deviation Should Be Retired From Scientific Use
No, my original statement was unclear. I was not attempting to classifly economists with social scientists. I was stating that they are both a long way from physicists. Perhaps 'fundamental science' is a better term for what I'm willing to call science. FWIW, that excludes large chunks of stalwarts such as biology & geology.

Comment: Re:So you want to retire a statistical term... (Score 5, Informative) 312

by Fouquet (#45973065) Attached to: Why Standard Deviation Should Be Retired From Scientific Use
That actually was part of my point. In my day job (and night job and weekend job, and, oh god I need a vacation) I'm an astrophysicist. I have more data sets that I can recall, and the number of problems for which I'm confident that the errors are Gaussian is at most 2 or 3. We're finally in an era where computational power facilitates forward modeling & Bayesian techniques that can provide good estimates of true uncertainties. But I (and many of my colleagues) barely understand how they work. Any expectation that most researchers are willing to invest the time to understand anything beyond Gaussian statistics is unrealistic.

Comment: Re:So you want to retire a statistical term... (Score 5, Insightful) 312

by Fouquet (#45970447) Attached to: Why Standard Deviation Should Be Retired From Scientific Use
+1 this. The problem here is the author's impression that "social scientists" and economists are scientists. The groups that he excludes in the first paragraph (physicists) are scientists. Anyone attempting to implement a statistical model designed for a large (and Gaussian) data set on a small number of data points (as the article's example does) should expect to get an answer that is at best marginal. Any scientists who ever received even the most basic of statistics and/or data analysis training knows this. Understand the problem first, then take enough data points, then carry out your statistical analysis & formulate conclusions.

Comment: Why 15,000 ft? (Score 1) 113

by Fouquet (#27141111) Attached to: Dell's Rugged Laptop Doesn't Quite Pass 4-Foot Drop Test

My run of the mill thinkpad has operated at the summit of Mauna Kea (~14,000 ft) many times. I've personally also used a Gateway laptop, and a couple of seagate 2.5" harddrives up there. I know of many people who have used other laptop models there as well, and have never heard of any problems. The pressure difference between 14000 ft and 150000 ft is only about 15%.

I strongly suspect Dell just pulled the 15,000 ft number out of their rear because some marketing person thought it sounded neato.

Comment: Re:Before everyone starts jumping the gun (Score 1) 262

by Fouquet (#16435753) Attached to: Airport To Tag Passengers With RFID
If this airport only serves a few dozen people each day, how can they possibly have passenger flow problems?

Until I read your post, I envisioned someone watching a computer screen with thousands of little dots overlaid on a floorplan of the airport, and saying something like: "Congestion at security line 6, open 2 more lines", or something like that.

If there are only a few dozen people using the airport, I don't see how anyone can interperet this as anything except 'big-(Hungarian)-brother'

What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite. -- Bertrand Russell, "Skeptical Essays", 1928

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