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Comment: Re:What is the signal/noise ratio? (Score 1) 287 287

The signal to noise ratio is probably pretty low, after passing the automated filters that get rid of most of the garbage. Most of this work is done by software. By the time it gets to the analysts who are making the database queries, they can pretty easily find what's useful for locking up political dissidents, murdering people with drones, etc without having to sift through a bunch of selfies and comments about Dancing with the Stars.

Comment: Securing our communications ... (Score 1) 287 287

I hope that we can develop an open-source smartphone (both hardware and software) soon that will enable people to encrypt their messages and other personal data. Some message encryption solutions exist right now, but they are all on closed/proprietary platforms that can't be trusted (especially in light of recent news re: the NSA's hardware backdoors). Until we have a secure, trustworthy, open platform to work from, we'll continue to fall prey to the NSA.

Comment: Re:Releases (Score 5, Informative) 287 287

Snowden specifically requested that the documents be released slowly, and only after careful analysis, rather than all at once. This is not to protect the police state, but for Snowden's own personal safety. Greenwald and other journalists are respecting the wishes of their source, and not throwing Snowden under the bus after he trusted them. You can read a bit about the reasoning behind their release method here:

Comment: Re:Basic Statistics (Score 1) 312 312

I wouldn't have a problem with them renaming it to make the terminology more usable/accessible. Usability is important, and leads to more rapid progress. However, what the author of this piece is suggesting: stopping the use of standard deviation altogether, is just stupid. People not understanding something might be a reason to try to improve pedagogy, but it's certainly not a reason to stop using it.

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

Exactly. Economists, psychologists, and sociologists just pretend like they are doing "science" when what they are really studying is social theory. The reason the mathematics are so misused here is that these are fields that don't lend themselves to mathematical analysis. Standard deviation is a useful mathematical concept for real sciences (physics, chemistry, computer science, etc.)

Comment: Publicly funded research should be public domain (Score 3) 129 129

Completely ridiculous to see taxpayer-funded research being patented. If public funds are being spent on research (as they are at BU, even though it's a "private" school), then the results of this research should be released into the public domain.

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"