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Comment: Re:Dead Zone? (Score 1) 221

by erikwestlund (#44287465) Attached to: Samsung Ups Ante In Smartphone Size Wars: 6.3 Inches

I consider it comfortable at this point. I can use it without thinking about how I'm holding it and I've never dropped it or fumbled with it. (FWIW, it's the same physical size as the S3, so if you want information on what its like to hold it/use it, you'll learn just as much from the S3 reviews.)

Comment: Dead Zone? (Score 5, Insightful) 221

by erikwestlund (#44282409) Attached to: Samsung Ups Ante In Smartphone Size Wars: 6.3 Inches

I know that for a while people thought 4" screens were overkill, too big for people's hands, etc. I'm using a 5" Galaxy now and, while it took some getting used to, it's manageable with one hand (and I don't have large hands).

However, 6.3" just seems like a deadzone. Too big to hold in a hand and use effectively, unless you're Shaq, but smaller than a 7 or 8" tablet like the Nexus 7 or iPad mini, which perform tablet duties pretty well.

Conventional wisdom on device size has been proved wrong time and again over the last few years, so who knows? Maybe what we're seeing is devices for every size. With rumored smart watches on the way, we may have 1-2" smart watches, followed up with 3.5-6" phones, and 7-11" tablets, after which the ultrabook/laptop market takes over. Maybe every device will excel at somethings while providing enough functionality for other basics (email, media) to keep people happy.

Interesting times.

Comment: Re:Gaming the system (Score 2) 412

by erikwestlund (#42610393) Attached to: US Educational Scores Not So Abysmal

No, what they're saying is that if you want to make comparisons between any groups, you better make sure the comparison groups are indeed comparable. This paper tries to do that. Take it or leave it.

Imagine if a study of health outcomes compared, say, the obese of one country, say, the United States, to the non-obese of another country and then tried to make claims about the health outcomes of the *general population* of each country. Would you then say, "Oh, so now we're supposed to just claim that Americans aren't fat?" No. American can still be fat (or dumb). They're just saying they might not be as relatively fat (or dumb) as they appear next to other countries.

Equal comparison groups constructed through randomization are the fundamental building block of medical research that saves lives by making causal inferences about treatments.

I won't fault some economists for trying to apply the same methodological standard to research in economics and education where randomization isn't so easy. It's good science.

Comment: Re:His intellectual hero is Ayn Rand. (Score 1) 757

by erikwestlund (#40957329) Attached to: Romney Taps Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan As Running Mate

Just to add on: Multiple times I've been in situations where someone talks about Ayn Rand as an intellectual (or worse, a philosopher), and all those who actually read stuff have to kind of embarrassingly smile as not to shame the person. It's not even spiteful, it's just an embarrassing moment. Granted, usually the people in these conversations are useless slackers who sit around and read all day while collecting degrees (i.e., intellectuals). I guess this tells you what counts as erudition now, for better of for worse.

Comment: What variable is on the left hand side? (Score 1) 213

by erikwestlund (#40849209) Attached to: Goodbye, IQ Tests: Brain Imaging Predicts Intelligence Levels

Two reasons to be skeptical of any of the claims about BRAIN SIZE. (The abstract emphasizes other things like "global connectivity" so pelase don't read these comments as a destruction of TFA. More how Slashdot reported it.)

1. The history of intelligence testing. Read S. J. Gould's "The Mismeasure of Man" and you'll find good reason to immediately be skeptical of any research such at this.
2. The statistical assumptions. So what's on the left hand side of the model? Obviously, some measure of intelligence. Thus the right hand side variables (size of different regions, etc.) are predicting an intelligence composite. Which assumes that intelligence is something determined in part by those right hand side variables or something correlated with those variables. These studies assume an at least semi-valid measure of intelligence. If they want to claim a causal relationship, I want a damn good measure of intelligence. Otherwise they're finding connections between something that may well be correlated with whatever we call intelligence, and we have no reason to believe brain size.

Furthermore, to say 6% of the variance is explained by brain size, we're assuming there's nothing unmeasured that doesn't also correlated with brain size and the dependent variable (intelligence). Historically, this situation has often presented itself. For example, when the better nourished happened to be more intelligent AND have bigger brains because of their nourishment.

A final problem with ALL intelligence research that wants to claim a causal relationship is that intelligence isn't something we can really manipulate in the lab, so we're always going to have to worry about endogeneity and selection issues. we can't control "how people get assigned to intelligence," and so we always may have something unmeasured which really explains what we find (by way of correlating with, for example, "global connectivity.")

"Someone's been mean to you! Tell me who it is, so I can punch him tastefully." -- Ralph Bakshi's Mighty Mouse

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