225 posts
How people interpret probability through words

In the early 1990s, the CIA published internal survey results for how people within the organization interpreted probabilistic words such as “probable” and “little chance”. Participants were asked to attach a probability percentage to the words. Andrew Mauboussin and Michael J. Mauboussinran ran a public survey more recently to see how people interpret the words now. The main point, like in the CIA poll, was that words matter. Some words...

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History of the word ‘data’

Sandra Rendgen describes the history of “data” the word and where it stands in present day. All through the evolution of statistics through the 19th century, data was generated by humans, and the scientific methodology of measuring and recording data had been a constant topic of debate. This is not trivial, as the question of how data is generated also answers the question of whether and how it is capable...

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Data is, sometimes

Financial Times recently updated their style guide: data — the rule for always using data as plural has been relaxed. If you read data as singular then write it as such. For example, we already allow singular for ‘big data’. And we should for personal data too. An easy rule would be that if it can be used as a synonym for information then it should probably be singular —...

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The words used by men and women to write about love

Josh Katz, Claire Cain Miller, and Kathleen A. Flynn for The Upshot plotted words used in essays above love submitted to The New York Times, focusing on a comparison between men and women’s word usage. When writing about love, men are more likely to write about sex, and women about marriage. Women write more about feelings, men about actions. Even as gender roles have merged and same-sex romance has become...

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Semantic maps of the brain

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, researchers monitored brain activity in seven people while the subjects listened to two hours of stories from the Moth Radio Hour. The researchers then used that data to map words to parts of the brain. An interactive viewer by Alexander Huth lets you see what words lit up parts of the brain for one of the subjects. Colors represent semantic categories such as numeric, social,...

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