Hans Rosling on population growth and other, related things.

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  Actuaries and programmers think in the same way, sometimes.

John Kay has an excellent piece in the FT about the limits of risk models. As he points out, they are no use for risks that they don’t model. In particular, if they are modelling financial risks, and are calibrated using recent data, they are no use at all for modelling major phase changes. For […] Read more

Simon Wren-Lewis, in his mainly macro blog, points out that there is a big disconnect between Conservative party words and action on climate change. Their words are vaguely green, and imply that they take climate change seriously. Their actions are not in the slightest bit green. In an earlier article, George Monbiot noted a part of the innocently […] Read more

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A somewhat frequent criticism of common economic theories and frameworks is that they are isolated from real world concerns such as energy and resource constraints: that the concept of limited resources, and ideas like the second law of thermodynamics, simply don’t seem to affect the economics at all. You come across this criticism primarily at […] Read more

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So often, just one number is not only not enough, it’s positively misleading. We often see statistics quoted that, say, the average number of children per family is 1.8. First off, what sort of average? Mean, median or mode?  It makes a difference. But really, the problem is that a mean (or median or mode) […] Read more

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How many times have you seen a standard disclaimer about past performance not being a good guide to the future? And internally nodded wisely, thinking that of course it’s not, the disclaimer is there to warn less sophisticated people than you. How many times have you calibrated a model based on past performance? And recent […] Read more

Which is harder to understand, physics or earth system science?  Which is more important to get right? Which do film-makers try hardest to get right? Oliver Morton, on his Heliophage blog, says a lot of people, both film makers and film discussers, think getting physics right, or at least seeming to or trying to, is in […] Read more

Here’s a long but fascinating post on deciphering the opening chord in A Hard Day’s Night. Along the way it gives a good explanation of Fourier transforms for the non-mathematician. It also gives a really good example of why it’s important to look at the overall reasonableness of a result, rather than blindly relying on […] Read more

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There’s a lovely piece in Pieria about a data visualisation exhibition at the British Library, positing John Graunt’s analysis of London deaths as an early spreadsheet. And yes, there were some errors in it.

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