Author Archives: russellschutt
How to Assess Needs?
Who can best determine what people in a community need to improve their lives? Asking them seems to be the most helpful part of a good needs assessment. In Houston, a nonprofit named Neighborhood Centers assesses needs by “spending hundreds … Continue reading
Paying for the privilege of participating in a medical experiment?
Medical research may identify a potentially valuable treatment that must be tested in a rigorous experiment. Usually such experiments are funded by federal agencies like the National Institutes of Health, after a careful review, or by the company that has … Continue reading
He’s Really Hot Now!
Do you every watch a basketball game and think that a player has a “hot hand,” by making a lot of baskets consecutively? Do you ever play on slot machines and think that you are having a “streak” of good, … Continue reading
Psychics and Pseudoscience
With concerns about reproducibility of results and exposure of instances of fraud–not to mention conflicting research results about what you should eat and how often you should be tested, it is easy to become cynical about the value of scientific … Continue reading
Photos as Data
Do you store your photos on Google Photos? Do you know that Google doesn’t just store, it also analyzes? It scans pictures to identify such features as what you are wearing, what you are doing, and whether you are with … Continue reading
What is the cost of disease? It is typical to calculate the cost of illness to society by counting the number of deaths. The more people killed, the worse the disease. But when people are disabled by illness, they are losing days … Continue reading
Googling as Social Data
The horrific tragedy of the April 2013 marathon bombing in Boston sent many people to the web. In the four days after the bombing, total searches for news rose 50 to 160%, but total searches for religion dropped slightly. Overall, … Continue reading
A Mad Rush to Publish
There’s nothing worse for the progress of science than finding that published results were based on outright fraud or overhyped findings. The editors of a site termed Retraction Watch estimate that an average retraction rate of one scientific paper per … Continue reading
Talking Can Be Good for You, but Maybe Not so Much
A common concern about publications in scientific journals, even those with very high standards, is called “the file drawer problem.” The problem is that studies that find something interesting are more likely to be selected for publication than studies that … Continue reading