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Comment Re:I gave up and used a tablet (Score 1) 134

I have a Nexus 7, but I found the screen just too small for double-column papers. I now use a Sony Tablet Z and it's nearly perfect. It's still light enough to easily hold in one hand, and I can easily read a single-column paper in portrait format, or a double-column paper either in portrait or landscape, depending on how tired my eyes are at the time.

I use "PDF Viewer", actually "EBook Droid" for PDFs, and it's OK for papers. I'll try ezPDF as well. I also use Sony's "small app" notes application to take notes which works fairly well.

The one thing I miss is Zotero integration. I don't really need Zotero on my tablet, but I would like to take notes and get the notes automagically imported to Zotero.

Comment Re:Philosophical question: (Score 1) 131

Philosophical answer: who cares?

You've really posed a political question, which is what "philosophical questions" become when anyone cares about them.

"What abstract category shall we put this concrete reality in" only matters to people who think abstractions exist independently of knowing subjects, which is say, idiots.

Nothing "is" a "failure" or a "success". Things actively assigned to the categories failure and success by knowing subjects. The act of assignment is useful. It reduces the extreme cognitive burden we face when thinking about more than five or ten things. But when we turn around and treat those categories as more than cognitive conveniences, and therefore treat it as a matter of import which one we assign a concrete reality to, we are almost always engaged in some kind of political act.

There are cases--mostly in scientific research--where such questions matter. In almost all other cases they are about power, not cognition.

Comment Gold Standard? (Score 4, Interesting) 124

That means "outmoded and archaic", right?

I realize I have a p-value in my .sig line and have for a decade, but p-values were a mediocre way to communicate the plausibility of a claim even in 2003. They are still used simply because the scientific community--and even moreso the research communities in some areas of the social sciences--are incredibly conservative and unwilling to update their standards of practice long after the rest of the world has passed them by.

Everyone who cares about epistemology has known for decades that p-values are a lousy way to communicate (im)plausibility. This is part and parcel of the Bayesian revolution. It's good that Nature is finally noticing, but it's not as if papers haven't been published in ApJ and similar journals since the '90's with curves showing the plausibility of hypotheses as positive statements.

A p-value is the probability of the data occurring given the null hypothesis is true, and which in the strictest sense says nothing about the hypothesis under test, only the null. This is why the value cited in my .sig line is relevant: people who are innocent are not guilty. This rare case where there is an interesting binary opposition between competing hypothesis is the only one where p-values are modestly useful.

In the general case there are multiple competing hypotheses, and Bayesian analysis is well-suited to updating their plausiblities given some new evidence (I'm personally in favour of biased priors as well.) The results of such an analysis is the plausibility of each hypothesis given everything we know, which is the most anyone can ever reasonably hope for in our quest to know the world.

[Note on language: I distinguish between "plausibility"--which is the degree of belief we have in something--and "probability"--which I'm comfortable taking on a more-or-less frequentist basis. Many Bayesians use "probability" for both of these related by distinct concepts, which I believe is a source of a great deal of confusion, particularly around the question of subjectivity. Plausibilities are subjective, probabilities are objective.]

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