Using the scientific method to figure

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Using the scientific method to figure

August 3, at I have to repeat what someone else wrote in one of the earlier comments: Are you kidding me???

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Honestly, I normally think that almost everything you have to say is great, but I have to say that this post of yours has me totally confused. I was utterly certain when I started reading your blog post—after reading the fluff piece in the online magazine that you linked to—that you were going to go on to turn this guy Lieberman into a cautionary tale, rather than holding him up as your perfect role model.

Yes, of course it is extremely impressive to have all those Nature and Science articles but please bear in mind that they are mostly really really short and do not represent anything like a series of important scientific advances. They throw in a sop to empirical reality in a couple of throwaway lines at the end of the article, mentioning only two possible wildly diverging empirical applications of their entirely theoretical study.

Like several other commentators have written, Lieberman represents almost the exact opposite of your crucial argument: What thing of great importance did that research give us? Most importantly, he has empirically uncovered a mathematical rule, but told us absolutely zero about the theoretical importance of that empirical finding, if there is one at all.

What plausible mechanism could we think of that would account for this empirical finding? And is it a good model for a satisfying and intellectually stimulating career as a scholar to have an approach to selecting research projects that seems to just be going to whatever talks are on at your university, being struck by some factoid or other, and then just abandoning any previous body of work you had been building up previously to go chasing something totally new?

Is that a good example that we should build our academic careers on? You imply that he is an eclectic interdisciplinary scholar who shuffles from discipline to discipline, sticking around just long enough to shake it up by making an important discovery.


But I have a really hard time believing that specialists in the fields he drops in and out of would see his research as a serious contribution to their disciplines except presumably the people studying the human genome.

Playing around online with the Google N-grams viewer is without doubt a fun and really addictive way to pass a few mindless hours throwing words into the search box and seeing what pretty graph is thrown up.

What really meaningful and important substantive and theoretical inferences can you draw from using the N-Gram viewer? The things you can use the N-Gram viewer to check out are hardly riveting. Most obviously, when you search some terms and it spits out some graphs, it is almost impossible to use the graphs to draw any inferences about anything meaningful!

In the Science article outlining this empirical tool, they just give a bunch of unconnected demonstrations of some questions that you might use N-Grams to investigate, but their findings from the N-Grams tool are hardly exciting, let alone groundbreaking and let alone being of reasonable interdisciplinary interest.

And that the Nazis kept Jewish artists and academics out of German books during Nazi rule. If your data is just confirming what everyone on the planet already knows and absolutely no-one would dispute, what is so admirable about this project?

What possible explanation could there be for this fascinating empirical result?

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Finally, there is a graph showing that Jimmy Carter was mentioned with much greater frequency than Marilyn Monroe from around the time he became President. Does the finding that Jimmy Carter was a lot more likely to be mentioned than Marilyn Monroe while he was the President of the United States genuinely surprise anyone?

And then mention of Chernobyl became less frequent again as time wore on. I really do think he represents almost the polar opposite of everything you have been trying to teach us for years!MATLAB is a high-performance language for technical computing.

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Using the scientific method to figure

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