Neither a Neuroscientist Nor a Statistician

A bunch of people I follow on social media were buzzing about this blog post yesterday, taking Jonah Lerher to task for “getting spun” in researching and writing this column in the Wall Street Journal about this paper on the “wisdom of crowds” effect. The effect in question is a staple of pop psychology these […]

Trends in International Math and Science: Mostly Downward

My talk at the AAAS meeting was part of a symposium on the results from the 2008 Trends in International Math and Science Survey (TIMSS) Advanced. This is an international test on math and physics given to high-school students in nine different countries (Armenia, Iran, Italy, Lebanon, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Slovenia, Sweden), and this is […]

Benford’s Law of Amazon Rankings

Late last year, Matthew Beckler was nice enough to make a sales rank tracker for How to Teach Physics to Your Dog. Changes in the Amazon page format made it stop working a while ago, though, and now Amazon reports roughly equivalent data via its AuthorCentral feature, with the added bonus of BookScan sales figures. […]

Poll: Significant Figures

I’m grading a big backlog of homeworks today, so I don’t have time to do any really lengthy posts this morning. Thus, a poll question inspired by going through these homeworks: You are doing a physics homework problem. How many significant figures do you report?survey software While the class in question uses some quantum ideas, […]

The Diagonal Parking Theorem

(With apologies to Georg Cantor) Theorem: There are an infinite number of stupid ways to park. Definition: We define as stupid any parking method that places any fender of a car outside the legal lines bounding the space. Proof:Consider a line L through the center of a legal parking space, parallel to the lines bounding […]

The Calculus Diaries by Jennifer Ouellette

I finished Jennifer Ouellette’s new book a few weeks ago, shortly after my trip to Alabama, but it’s taken me a long time to get around to reviewing it due to a combination of too much work and being a Bad Person. There’s finally a tiny break in the storm of work, though, so here’s […]