Fan Mail Of The Day

Woke up this morning to find this rather tired and emotional missive nestling in my inbox:

Hi, I read your post about Alessandro Strumia, and have to tell you to pray for a new brain. Yours is ideologically possessed and rotting. You make about as much sense as a demon possessed lunatic. His stuff is empirical. I’ve read that paper. You make me sick. That’s all.

I’ll spare my correspondent’s blushes and not reveal his name. As is usual in these cases, there’s absolutely no attempt at all to provide any type of counter argument to the scientific points raised in my posts about Strumia (here, here, and here. And elsewhere.)  As I’ve said before

what I have always found striking throughout my time online is that those who claim vociferously to be solely driven by reason, logic, science, rational debate, and/or individualism — aka the Fuck Your Feelings (FYF) brigade — are often among the most hypersensitive, overwrought, tribal, and emotionally driven out there. The type of over-emotional response that the FYF tribe attribute to the big, bad bogeyman of “The Left” is equally, and often more, prevalent within their own ranks. (There are key parallels here with the deeply intolerant patriotic correctness of the right.) 

That wonderful “demon-possessed lunatic” line has, however, put me in the mood for some metal to start the day…

Down On The Upside

I stumbled across the wonderful website last night (via Ken Rice‘s Twitter feed) and just had to quickly blog about this brilliant, at-a-glance rebuttal of that hoary old “The data don’t lie” aphorism. The graph speaks for itself…

 “But Philip, I thought you’d sworn off Twitter?” I have — I killed my Twitter account almost four years ago and have not once regretted it since. For one thing, a Twitter account is not required in order to read tweets and I occasionally dip into the Twitter threads of colleagues and friends I used to follow (Ken among them) via

An avid fan writes…

This arrived in my mailroom pigeonhole today — a proper, honest to goodness, old-school letter (but, disappointingly, written in boring monochrome rather than the traditional green.) It’s a response, of sorts, to my recent letter to The Sunday Times. I can’t quite decide as to whether it’s a pitch-perfect parody — the line about girls not instinctively “learning to throw” is perhaps a little too good — or if my aggrieved correspondent somehow joined Jacob Rees-Mogg in teleporting here from the 18th century…


Bad Statistics and the Gender Gap

The exchange with Alessandro Strumia rumbles and lumbers on in the comments sections of previous posts, while over at his “In The Dark” blog, Peter Coles highlights that credulous over-interpretation of gender gap data is not the sole preserve of aggrieved and ideologically-biased particle physicists…

In the Dark

So there’s an article in Scientific American called How to Close the Gender Gap in the Labo(u)r Force (I’ve added a `u’ to `Labour’ so that it can be understood in the UK).

I was just thinking the other day that it’s been a while since I added any posts to the `Bad Statistics’ folder, but this Scientific American article offers a corker:

That parabola is a  `Regression line’? Seriously? Someone needs to a lesson in how not to over-fit data! It’s plausible that the orange curve might be the best-fitting parabola to the blue points, but that doesn’t mean that it provides a sensible description of the data…

I can see a man walking a dog in the pattern of points to the top right: can I get this observation published in Scientific American?

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