Sunday data/statistics link roundup (7/14/2013)

Jeff Leek
  1. Question: Do clinical trials work?Answer: Yes. Clinical trials are one of the defining success stories in the process of scientific inquiry. Do they work as fast/efficiently as a pharma company with potentially billions on the line would like? That is definitely much more up for debate. Most of the article is a good summary of how drug development works - although I think the statistics reporting is a little prone to hyperbole. I also think this sentence is both misleading, wrong, and way over the top, “Part of the novelty lies in a statistical technique called Bayesian analysis that lets doctors quickly glean information about which therapies are working best. There’s no certainty in the assessment, but doctors get to learn during the process and then incorporate that knowledge into the ongoing trial.” 
  2. The fun begins in the grim world of patenting genes. Two companies are being sued by Myriad even though they just lost the case on their main patent. Myriad is claiming violation of one of their 500 or so other patents. Can someone with legal expertise give me an idea - is Myriad now a patent troll?
  3. R spells for data wizards from Thomas Levine. I also link the pink on grey look.
  4. Larry W. takes on non-informative priors. Worth the read, particularly the discussion of how non-informative priors can be informative in different parameterizations. The problem Larry points out here is one I think that is critical - in big data applications where the goal is often discovery, we rarely have enough prior information to make reasonable informative priors either. Not to say some regularization can’t be helpful, but I think there is danger in putting an even weakly informative prior on a poorly understood, high dimensional space and then claiming victory when we discover something.
  5. Statistics and actuarial science are jumping into a politically fraught situation by raising the insurance on schools that allow teachers to carry guns. Fiscally, this is clearly going to be the right move. I wonder what the political fallout will be for the insurance company and for the governments that passed these laws (via Rafa via Marginal Revolution).
  6. Timmy!! Tim Lincecum throws his first no hitter. I know this isn’t strictly data/stats but he went to UW like me!