Tag: rigor

Reproducibility is Rigor, not Popular

rigĀ·or
noun
the quality of being extremely thorough, exhaustive, or accurate.
“his analysis is lacking in rigor”

As Professor Jeff Leek of Johns Hopkins University points out

Both the scientific community and the popular press are freaking out about reproducibility right now. I think they have good reason to, because even the US Congress is now investigating the transparency of science. It has been driven by the very public reproducibility disasters in genomics and economics.

What is reproducibility? In the simplest sense, it is the inherent “ability” of any information created via data analysis to stand up to scrutiny. Not just perusal, cursory acknowledgment, wink and nod, but a detailed re-analysis, preferably in precisely the same manner that the original information was derived.

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Something Thoreau wrote on December 2, 1853

“The skeleton which at first sight excites only a shudder in all mortals becomes at last not only a pure but suggestive and pleasing object to science. The more we know of it, the less we associate it with any goblin of our imaginations. The longer we keep it, the less likely it is that any such will come to claim it. We discover that the only spirit which haunts it is a universal intelligence which has created it in harmony with all nature. Science never saw a ghost, nor does it look for any, but it see everywhere the traces, and it is itself the agent, of a Universal Intelligence.”

He lived in an age when science was methodical, slow moving. Yet you can be sure much of the science then settled was later expounded upon or tossed in the rubbish bin. Nowadays, tools exist to accelerate study while enhancing the reliability of measurement, as well as engage in alternative hypothesizing at the flip of a coin. And yet the scientific method seems to have been tossed aside in favor of expediency, despite the obvious risks.

Was Thoreau telegraphing the resultant skeletons in the closet?

MG signing off (thinking “Universal Intelligence” is often deserving of critical review)

Regarding rigor, I couldn’t agree more

Marketing maven Seth Godin thinks that projects of the like that he and his colleagues think about and work on daily can sometimes seem a little vague, and that applying some rigor to the process might produce better results. I couldn’t agree more.

I have a newfound appreciation for a lot of disciplines I previously ignored, including politics and marketing. I once cast them off because they were so hard to define in quantitative terms, but now think there must be measures outside my finance/accounting mindset that can be used.

Certainly, getting the I’s dotted and T’s crossed, and actually predefining the purpose, cannot hurt.