How we lost the cure for scurvy. "Now, I had been taught in school that scurvy had been conquered in 1747...but here was a Royal Navy surgeon in 1911 apparently ignorant of what caused the disease, or how to cure it. Somehow a highly-trained group of scientists at the start of the 20th century knew less about scurvy than the average sea captain in Napoleonic times."
posted by rodgerd
on Mar 8, 2010 -
Here's a damning indictment of the (mis)use of regression analysis in the social sciences.
[Y]ou may have fallen for a pernicious form of junk science: the use of mathematical models with no demonstrated predictive capability to draw policy conclusions. These studies are superficially impressive. Written by reputable social scientists from prestigious institutions, they often appear in peer reviewed scientific journals. Filled with complex statistical calculations, they give precise numerical "facts" that can be used as debaters' points in policy arguments. But these "facts" are will o' the wisps. Before the ink is dry on one study, another appears with completely different "facts." Despite their scientific appearance, these models do not meet the fundamental criterion for a useful mathematical model: the ability to make predictions that are better than random chance.
posted by electro
on Feb 12, 2002 -