Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Error Bars and how they can be improved

Interesting paper entitled "Error Bars Considered Harmful: Exploring Alternate Encodings for Mean and Error" by Michael Correll and Michael Gleicher, both from the Department of Computer Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA.

Essentially, their work tackles the public perception of error bars, noting that bar charts using conventional error bars suffer from two main problems :
Within-the-bar bias: the glyph of a bar provides a false metaphor of containment, where values within the bar are seen as likelier than values outside the bar.

Binary interpretation: values are within the margins of error, or they are not. This makes it difficult for viewers to confidently make detailed inferences about outcomes, and also makes viewers overestimate effect sizes in comparisons.

Their proposed solution is that a more nuanced way of representing error probability is used, summarised in this image from the paper:

Ways of representing probability of error

It's all interesting stuff, and it is great to read that the public comes as being able to robustly interpret data - so long as the data meets them half way!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Liverpool Life Sciences UTC Blog by Prof Dave Hornby

Recently became aware (by the magic of Twitter) of the Blog run by Prog Dave Hornby at the Liverpool Life Sciences University Technical College.

It has some interesting stuff on it.....

How fish make their own antifreeze

An Interview with (Nobel Prize winning) Sir Richard Roberts who talks about GMO, pointing out that the opposition of some groups to GM organisms such as Golden Rice is preventing their introduction. It would have been nice, however, to have seen him questioned on some of the more dubious GMO business practices of Monsanto et al.

How fluorescent genes have transformed research by allowing target molecules to be visible under microscopy.

Lots of important points in this post about infectious diseases.

Some interesting comments see here, and here on things to consider when starting up a life science business

Green Fluorescent Protein

Image Source