Archive for February, 2013

Does a new ballpark lead to more wins for baseball teams?

Winter retains its grip up here in Minnesota at this time of the year, but the days are getting longer and the Twins are in camp down in Florida, so Spring fever is building.  I can’t wait to get out to a game at Target Field with the sun shining and our nine flagging down fly balls and bashing them out of the park.

It will be interesting to see if the bloom comes off the rose of our new stadium now that our home team has stunk up the place for two years running.  However, Minnesotans are so crazy to get outdoors after being stuck indoors for half the year that they may not care that their club has regressed to its mediocre mean.

According to this article in the latest Chance magazine new stadiums do not make teams statistically more competitive.  Yes, teams do increase payroll in conjunction with the greater revenues coming from flocks of fans that come with their new digs.  But this drops off in a year or two and things go back to the way they were.

I am not surprised.  Nevertheless, I am positive that the Twins will come around this year and make it to the playoffs.  That is the nature of a true baseball fan—hopeless optimism.

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Slugging down beer—which brew preferred by shell-less terrestrial gastropods

Inspired by my new web-based “Launch Pad” to the book DOE Simplified, PhD biologist Gaston Habets put his new statistical know-how to good use in his own backyard out in California by offering a choice of beer to the slugs eating up his garden.

Being a native of a cold clime I’d no idea how troublesome slugs could be until some years ago when my cousin in the Bay Area had me out to her place for dinner and asked me to help her gather up greens from the garden.  The size of the slugs surprised me: The Pacific banana slug approaches a foot in length according to this New York Times science blog.

Given their gentle nature and top speed of 0.0055 miles per hour, one need not fear these slimy creatures.  The only thing is that they eat up the gardens.  So that sets the stage for the humane solution of sidetracking slugs with a bowl of beer.  But which brew do they prefer?  Gaston did his bit for the sake of garden science by setting out eight trays at specific locations around the vegetables and randomly pouring either Bud light or alcohol-free O’Doul’s.  He repeated this experiment over four nights in a way that blocked out any differences in the nocturnal feedings.*  The graphic shown here shows the outcome: By nearly a 3-to-1 ration slugs preferred Bud Light over the O’Doul’s.  They did not get thrown off by the random location of the beer—the slugs found their favorite bars and bellied up.

*Gaston’s data showed a maximum slug count on Saturday night, but then they dropped off to a minimum on Sunday.  My conclusion is that slugs party hearty.  Who knew?

SlugBeerFest_Model Graphs of R1Slugs

Slugs prefer Bud Light over O’Doul’s

P.S.  It seems that slugs from coast to coast really do prefer Bud from what I see here.

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Only 14 percent of biomedical results are wrong, after all–Is this comforting?

The Scientist reports here that new mathematical studies refute previous findings that most current published medical research findings are false due to small study sizes and bias.   I suppose–considering the original assertion of “most” announced discoveries being wrong–we can literally live with a false positive rate of ‘only’ 14%  for findings that relate ultimately to our well being.    But the best advice is:

It is still important to report estimates and confidence intervals in addition to or instead of p-values when possible so that both statistical and scientific significance can be judged by readers.

– Leah R. Jager, Jeffrey T. Leek (“Empirical estimates suggest most published medical research is true”)

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