Monday, February 24, 2014

Baby Name Wizard's NameVoyager

Here is the Baby Name Wizard's NameVoyager, which provides illustrations of trends in baby names, using data from the 1880s to the present.

It is a good tool for demonstrating why graphs can be more engaging than tables when presenting data. When I use this in class, I compare the NameVoyager data display to more traditionally presented data from the the Social Security Agency. Additionally, I teach in a computer lab, so my students were able to search for their own names, which makes the example more self relevant.

Yup. I am one of many, many Jessicas that are around my age.

Monday, February 17, 2014

NPR's "Will Afghan polling data help alleviate election fraud?"

This story details the application of American election polling techniques to Afghanistan's fledgling democracy.

Essentially, international groups are attempting to poll Afghans prior to their April 2014 presidential elections as to combat voter fraud and raise awareness about the election.

However, how do researchers go about collecting data in a country where few people have telephones, many people are illiterate, and just about everyone is weary about strangers approaching them and asking them sensitive questions about their political opinions? The story also touches on issues of social desirability as well as the decisions  a researcher makes regarding the kinds of response options to use in survey research.

I think that this would be a good story to share with a cranky undergraduate research methods class that thinks that collecting data from the undergraduate convenience sample is really, really hard. Less snarkily, this may be useful when teaching multiculturalism or psychometrics.

Monday, February 10, 2014

A.V. Club's "Shirley Manson takes BuzzFeed's "Which Alt-Rock Grrrl Are You?" quiz, discovers she's not herself"

Lately, there have been a lot of quizzes popping up on my Facebook feed ("What breed of dog are you?", "What character from Harry Potter are you?"). As a psychologist who tinkers in statistics, I have pondered the psychometric properties of such quizzes and concluded that these quizzes where probably not properly vetted in peer-reviewed journals.

Now I have a tiny bit of evidence to support that conclusion. What better way to ensure that a scale is valid than by using the standard of concurrent validity (popular in I/O psychology)? This actually happened when renowned Shirley Manson Subject Matter Expert, Shirley Manson, lead singer of the band Garbage, took the "Which Alt-rock Grrrl are you?" quiz and she didn't score as herself (as she posted on Facebook and reported by A.V. Club).

From Facebook, via A.V. Club

An excellent example of an invalid test (or concurrent validity for you I/O types).

Monday, February 3, 2014

Anecdote is not the plural of data: Using humor and climate change to make a statistical point

Variations upon a theme...good for spicing up a powerpoint...inspired by living in the #1 snowiest city (population > 100K, 2014) in the United States.

property of