One month with a solar battery - real statistics


Graph with multiple lines. There's a spike about 6AM which is probably a kettle being boiled. Another near lunchtime which might be a microwave. The evening has a couple of hours of high use - which is probably a washing machine.

August is meant to be full of gloriously hot days. An endless parade of sunshine and drinks in the park. This year it seemed mostly grey, miserable, and prone to pissing it down at a moment's notice. We all know that solar panels' efficiency wilts in the heat, but do they get a tan work […]

Continue reading →

Why you should attend the University of Luck


Photo of Bingo Balls in a hopper. Taken by danielcornejo on Flickr. CC BY-NC-ND.

Much hullabaloo out of America. Apparently elite universities can no long engage in "Affirmative Action". How can they now admit a balanced and fair selection of the population1? My suggestion is, as always, sortition. Let me explain. Most top flight universities around the world have the same problem. They have space for 100 students on […]

Continue reading →

What's an acceptable number of failures?


Some giant question marks standing in a field. Photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/dbrekke/181939582/

During my (brief) stint teaching senior leaders about AI, there was one question that I urged them to learn above all others. What is the acceptable failure rate? For this, I had to teach them two concepts. False Positives. For example, telling someone they have cancer when they don't. False Negatives. For example, telling someone […]

Continue reading →

Where are the articles asking why men don't want to have children?


More and more women just don't want children 'Kids are expensive and sticky'

Truly, men have the worse of everything…⸮ But, there's something we blokes can be grateful for. No matter what grief the world throws at us, it'll always be the women's fault that there aren't enough babies! The other day, I saw this headline: The Business Insider article - in the "Economy" section - focussed solely […]

Continue reading →

Book Review: The Art of Statistics - Learning from Data by David Spiegelhalter


Book cover with many dots on it.

Do busier hospitals have higher survival rates? How many trees are there on the planet? Why do old men have big ears? David Spiegelhalter reveals the answers to these and many other questions - questions that can only be addressed using statistical science. Statistics has played a leading role in our scientific understanding of the […]

Continue reading →

VR for Statistics


A basic bar chart - with four columns. The tallest is about the height of the screen.

I'm not a big fan of Virtual Reality. I find it claustrophobic and impractical for most uses. There are some areas which it does impress though. Scale. Half-a-dozen years ago - during one of VR's periodic hype-phases - an employer asked me and my team to "do something interesting" with all the expensive VR kit […]

Continue reading →

Book Review: How to Make the World Add Up - Tim Harford


A goldfish, with a shark find stuck to its back.

In How to Make the World Add Up, Tim Harford draws on his experience as both an economist and presenter of the BBC’s radio show ‘More or Less’ to take us deep into the world of disinformation and obfuscation, bad research and misplaced motivation to find those priceless jewels of data and analysis that make […]

Continue reading →

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you lose


Robin Ince dressed as a clown.

I've just read an interesting article by M.G. Siegler entitled - "What you’re working on sucks, just give up now, they said." It can be summed up thus: Commentators said our startup wouldn't work. Our startup did, in fact, suceed. ∴ All commentators are wrong about whether startups will work. This exhibits one of my […]

Continue reading →

Surrey Police and the Case of The Misleading Pie Charts


Surrey County Council have sent every household in the county a booklet explaining how our council tax is being spent. Within it is a highly political comment from Kevin Hurley, the newly elected Police and Crime Commissioner. He presents a pie chart showing how the police force spend its money. Take a look at it […]

Continue reading →

Sex Ratios in Delhi


There are no words to adequately describe the horrific rape and murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey. I remember, several years ago reading a short piece of speculative fiction which postulated that China would go to war over access to women. Generations of female infanticide would leave the country with a severe gender imbalance. Hoards of […]

Continue reading →