Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


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: Warning: statistical ECOLOGICAL FALLACY likely (Score 1) 175

The ecological fallacy concerns making conclusions about individuals from aggregates (states).
From Wikipedia,
"An ecological fallacy is a logical fallacy in the interpretation of statistical data where inferences about the nature of individuals are deduced from inference for the group to which those individuals belong. ... The four common statistical ecological fallacies are: confusion between ecological correlations and individual correlations, confusion between group average and total average, Simpson's paradox, and confusion between higher average and higher likelihood."

An example is Red State/ Blue State and income.
Using states, we could conclude that poor states (southern or red states) vote republican.
Yet when run on individuals, rich people vote 60% republican.

The same thing happens in the pharmaceutical industry.
Rather than states, some researchers merely use other researchers published (aggregate) results,
collecting results from many academic pharmaceutical articles (each acting like a state).
Bayer found that they could not reproduce 75% of pharmaceutical academic articles.
When you aggregate (meta-statistics), the knowledgeable complain that you should use individual data, not aggregate data (from articles) to make proper conclusions.

Further examples of the "ecological fallacy" are numerous.
State confounds with another variable, and its extrication can take decades of research, though Bayesian hierarchical models with separate errors at each level can probably extricate the problem these days.

Using aggregate data to make conclusions about individuals has been rejected since the 1950 seminal article by the researcher William S. Robinson. That's 60 years ago! We should become more statistically literate!

Comment: Vernier has done this for 30 years (Score 4, Interesting) 6

Particularly for schools, Vernier Software and Technology, has continually added sensors, now about 60 sensors, over the last 33 years.
Some sensors include carbon dioxide, water flow, radiation, respiration, soil moisture, spectrometer, UV.
I have about 20 of them for my child at home, and hope to get the blood pressure sensor for myself.
Being for schools, they are the least expensive sensors I've seen.
All these sensors plug into their Labquest 2 interface (or one of their older interfaces) which looks more like a smartphone with touch screen, WiFi, Bluetooth, and several device ports. Top 10 ranking high schools like Thomas Jefferson High School in Fairfax county use these, though that high school has also had genetic sequencers for the last 15 years.

I'm glad to see competition, but one should never overlook what has dominated this arena for decades.

Comment: Fund Open Office rather than fund Microsoft market (Score 5, Interesting) 273

by Jameson Burt (#46106301) Attached to: UK Government May Switch from MS Office to Open Source

If you want a feature in Open Office, fund it. Better yet, considering the cost of Microsoft Office, put the funding of Open Office in the annual budget. Rather than giving $100 million a year to Microsoft, give $10 million a year to Open Office. With a programming / total-expenditures ratio of 1, open source funding is efficient.

Comment: Nebraska AG lambasted economist for honest results (Score 1) 640

A few years ago, Kansas sued Nebraska, whose 100,000 plus wells left some Kansas towns with zero water, especially near the Republican River (named after a Pawnee subtribe of Indians known as the Republicans). A Nebraska agricultural economist investigated, publishing a research paper that revealed over several years that Nebraska's increasing wells decreased water before it reached Nebraska. With his defense ruined, the Nebraska attorney general denounced the economist to his department head in Lincoln, Nebraska. The attorney general valued loyalty to himself more than honesty to truth, while the economist valued loyalty to honesty.

Comment: Security agencies blemish our view of government (Score 1) 470

Continuing revelations about U.S. security agencies (torture, forbidding free speech, spying on their citizens, promoting specific denominations of Christianity) blemishes all other government agencies (Commerce, Agriculture, Education). We envision these other benign government agencies' surveys spying on us, maybe even sharing information with government security agencies. Does U.S. extensive security represent a new necessity, obsessive employees, employees seeking promotions, or a cowardly and impotent population.

Comment: Re:Use SDHC memory in a card reader-writer, set lo (Score 1) 116

by Jameson Burt (#43302153) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Do-It-Yourself Security Auditing Tools?

I have now actually checked this.
I switched an SDHC to read-only, wrote a file to it on Linux, took the SDHC to another computer, and the file was indeed written.
So, the SDHC lock is no guarantee against writing, and is apparently useless.
I stand corrected, and thank Carnildo for ending my misadventure.

I prefer using read-only hardware to "chattr -i" immutability plus a Linux kernel enforcing this,
since the software approach is cumbersome and changes files' ctime attribute.
What is available?
The following in the alternate model AEPDDESUWP will not write to any memory it can read,
and outputs to either eSATA or USB computer ports,
I still need to put my operating system on flash memory before I insert it into such a read-only device.

Comment: Americans prefer to buy the goods of Satan/China (Score 1) 1121

by Jameson Burt (#43291003) Attached to: USPS Discriminates Against 'Atheist' Merchandise

People are either Christian, or headed for hell and of Satan.
Most American goods come from China, so American Christians prefer to buy the goods of Satan.

So with science and engineering -- of Satan.
Yet virtually everything around us came through science and engineering's magic touch
-- blended shirts (banned in the bible), invisible electromagnetic waves everywhere to be interpreted, risen people in airplanes, medical prosthetics getting even amputees to walk.
In the last hundred years, name one "good" thing religion has given us.
Now name something good science has given us.

Comment: Use SDHC memory in a card reader-writer, set lock (Score 2) 116

by Jameson Burt (#43283253) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Do-It-Yourself Security Auditing Tools?

No matter what an intruder tries, if you put your operating system on read-only media, intrusion becomes limited.
Of course, installation and changes become more difficult because you must reboot with your media set to read-write, then reboot again to read-only. SDHC memory works well for this, since it has a read-write switch like the old floppy drives. Put the memory in a
      USB "card reader" for SD
(microSD doesn't appear to have a read-write switch).
You can insert the SDHC in something that looks like a flash drive, then insert the whole in a USB slot.

Or, you can use something like the Adonics eSATA/USB Digidrive
to connect to your computer's eSATA port (if you have such a port on the back of your computer),
which is probably more efficient (fewer waits) than a USB 3.0 connection.

In Linux, you might choose to put most of your operating system on SDHC switched to read-only,
then put a variable area on a regular disk drive for logs, although you can put logs into a memory area that disappears on reboot.
Or you might put your webpages on a separate SDHC,
so your webpages get no intrusion changes.
You could then unmount your webpage SDHC, switch to read-write, make changes, unmount, switch to read-only.

In Debian Linux, the foundation for most Linuxes (eg, Ubuntu), you can look at the "Securing Debian Manual",
Debian has a highly tailored Aide (like tripwire) that uses checksums to detect any file changes.
In Debian, "dar" Disk Archiver (like tar) makes backups on external disk drives, but dar probably requires some tailoring (I use dar).
For a firewall, you could use Debian's easily used Guarddog.
In some sense, Debian is the administrator's operating system -- for the serious.

Comment: In experiments, correlation implies causation (Score 1) 223

by Jameson Burt (#41537583) Attached to: The History of 'Correlation Does Not Imply Causation'

Data arises from retrospective or prospective studies.
Retrospective data was created before a statistician could design an experiment.
Prospective data sees the statistician set various levels of a variable
to randomly selected experimental units (maybe people, maybe production machines).
In a (prospective) experiment, an observed correlation implies causation.

For example, in manufacturing plastic, keeping constant other variables (humidity and speed of production),
set the temperature sometimes at 100 degrees and sometimes at 200 degrees,
randomly choosing the order these temperatures get applied.
If the 200 degree temperature produces a stronger plastic (response or dependent variable),
then your positive correlation implies causation.
In the future, knowing that increased heat increases plastic strength, the manufacturer would raise the temperature.

But experiments consume time and money, so institutions not individuals usually perform them.
Million dollar clinical trials do determine whether a drug is effective.
While experimental economics can determine causation, most economics is retrospective, so conclusions become controversial.

Comment: Mississippi State did this with GM (Score 1) 543

GM and Department of Energy have been sponsoing a competition, providing the same model vehicle that universities then convert.
Mississippi State University appeared on the Smithsonian Mall (Washington, DC) in the Folk Festival, June-July 2012.
While the vehicle wasn't an SUV, GM provided the same vehicle model merely to avoid variable results arising from model used.

Comment: R -- programming plus math, graphics (Score 1) 355

by Jameson Burt (#39220521) Attached to: Khan Academy Chooses JavaScript As Intro Language

Programming plus math, statistics, legendary graphics -- that's R.
Just a programming language is a barren language for most people.
Use a programming language that eases and magnifies another field/course.
R dominates numerous statistics departments, biogenetics, and financial quants,

R originated from AT&T (as S) at the same time as Unix and C.
Many people start an R session whenever they login, since R can even do the trivial as a calculator with history and help.
With vectors x and y, the following creates a good graph.
R has associative arrays (hashes) and parallel programming, native to R since the programmer often uses vector objects.


by Jameson Burt (#38988467) Attached to: US Approves Two New Nuclear Reactors

Westinghouse Electric Company was bought in 2005 for $5 billion by the Japanese company TOSHIBA,

And the U.S. has the British company BP drilling much of the U.S. oil.
Why is the U.S. excited about its self-sufficiency?
Why does the U.S. push foreign company energy projects more than its own projects?
With China producing 30 percent of the world's engineers, Russia 7 percent, and the U.S. only 3 percent (see this week's Science article); and
with 8 out of 9 of China's political leaders engineers;
what part of the world's engineering curve does the U.S. think it sits?

Comment: Could you improve on USDA pdf's back to 1925? (Score 1) 59

by Jameson Burt (#38595916) Attached to: Ask Carl Malamud About Shedding Light On Government Data

In the past 6 months, USDA has made available past agriculture censuses,
now back to 1925.
However, while these are searcheable pdf's,
there appears to be no quality control so errors appear not in the image but in the underlying searcheable data.
In some sense, the searcheability is a mere bonus of the scanning software used;
although for such pdf's, your own OCR software could create this searcheability.
Since you can't import these into statistical or spreadsheet software,
such pdf's merely amount to putting a library's paper document on your desk.

With some Perl programming, they could be made into unusual csv (comma separated) files,
though those underlying errors would remain.
At least each such csv files could be created the same way for all 50 states,
and used in statistical software the same way for all 50 states.

You knew the job was dangerous when you took it, Fred. -- Superchicken