Five short links

Photo by Eldeeem

The Cartography of Bullshit – A righteous rant against a piece of pop-sociology digging into just how flimsy the underlying statistics are. It hits home because numbers I've mined have ended up in similar columns – a White Power group even used some of my research to 'prove' Mexicans were conquering Texas based on the numbers of Juans versus Johns! Take all studies on controversial subjects like race with a massive pinch of salt.

Welcome, recent graduates – Advice I wished I'd had when I looked for my first post-college job. 

Sublime DataConverter – We've ended up using CSV for lists of objects where the property names remain constant and JSON for messier data structures and as a programming model post-transport. We've homebrewed a limited set of routines to automatically scan headers or walk all objects and extract all possible properties so we can automatically convert between the two representations, but this project is a much more general approach to the same problem.

The Split-Apply-Combine Strategy for Data Analysis – A technical but enlightening read from Hadley Wickham, covering ways of applying the same algorithms across many different representations of data.

Nightmare after nightmare: Students trying to replicate work – Remember what I said about taking studies with a pinch of salt? Even with help from the original authors, PhD students had incredible trouble reproducing the results of published papers. This isn't just a problem for social science, all science is a messy business and we need to keep our skepticism intact. That isn't a free pass to ignore evolution and climate change though!

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