Teacher development is built on ‘good intentions’ and ‘false assumptions’

Probability in Education –

My embarrassment has been reawakened by a new study delving deep into the uselessness of professional development. The study by the teacher-training and research group TNTP, titled “The Mirage,” reveals that teachers who are improving have the same professional-development experiences as those who aren’t. What they have learned is not having the effect it should.

Jay Matthews, Washington Post, September 13, 2015

As Head-Up Displays Become Common, Distraction Becomes an Issue

Probability in Technology, Psychology –

Now, the head-up display, once mostly confined to performance cars like the Chevrolet Corvette, is migrating more broadly to the automobile world, mainly in premium-priced vehicles, and finding a consumer audience that is only vaguely aware that such a feature exists.

To automakers, the technology makes for safer driving because the driver does not need to look down for information. The illuminated graphics, which may be white or colored, are transparent, so that the driver actually looks through them onto the road ahead.

But to skeptics, head-up displays are yet another informational distraction for the already data-overloaded driver. No federal standards govern the use of head-up displays, and that concerns some safety advocates.

Stephen Williams, New York Times, September 11, 2015

7 easy ways to make your child’s lunchbox healthier Here’s how to boost kids’ noontime nutrition

Probability in Health –

High-Tech Lights to Help Baby Sleep, or Students Stay Alert

Probability in Technology, Psychology, Education –

Like many expecting parents, Tracy Mizraki Kraft in Portola Valley, Calif., worried about how her newborn would sleep. So she paid attention when her doctor handed her a light bulb that he said would help her son do just that.

The small amber bulb, called Sleepy Baby, seemed to work well, she said, creating a soothing environment for Leo, now 16 months, as he drifted off to sleep.

For Ms. Mizraki Kraft, the bulb’s appeal was self-preservation. But it is part of a technological revolution coming to homes, offices, hotels and schools through lighting designed to undo the ill effects of artificial light — both overhead and on screen — and help regulate sleep, alertness and even people’s moods.

“Lighting is really not about a fixture in the ceiling anymore,” said Mariana Figueiro, who leads light and health research at the Lighting Research Center of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. “It’s about delivering individualized light treatments to people.”

Diane Cardwell, New York Times, September 11, 2015

The Folly of N.F.L. Predictions

Probability in Sports, Gambling – 

The question is whether the whole idea of predicting — in August — five months’ worth of individual game scores and season records is, inherently, a bit ridiculous.

A review of recent predictions suggests that the answer is yes. I took the last five years of win predictions from ESPN, CBS Sports, Bleacher Report and Las Vegas oddsmakers (a combination of the Westgate Superbook and MGM Grand), and compared them with the actual results. Two patterns emerged. First, the predictions tend to look markedly similar to the prior season’s final standings, despite the fact that N.F.L. rosters sometimes undergo major off-season changes. Second, the experts proved to be only slightly more accurate than if they had taken the prior year’s results and changed nothing. Let’s call that “same as last year” alternative the Groundhog Day approach.

Judd Olanoff, New York Times, September 11, 2015

Probability in Evolution, Science –

Sound jungle GIFRecently scientists have pushed the field of bioacoustics even further, to record whole environments, not just the animals that live there. Some call this “acoustic ecology” — listening to the rain, streams, wind through the trees. A deciduous forest sounds different from a pine forest, for example, and that soundscape changes seasonally.

Neuroscientist Seth Horowitz, author of the book The Universal Sense: How Hearing Shapes the Mind, is especially interested in the ways all these sounds, which are essentially vibrations, have shaped the evolution of the human brain.

Bill McQuay and Christopher Joyce, NPR, September 10, 2015

The Robot Will See You Now

Probability in Psychology, Technology –

What is going on at the intersection of artificial intelligence and healthcare?
It’s very exciting right now. The area I’m most interested in is how we can use computer science to help clinicians and healthcare providers recognize mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder through the non-verbal communication of the patient. We call this multimodal machine learning.

How close are we to reaching this goal?
Clinicians have been assessing patient’s nonverbal behavior subjectively, but now we are offering ways to do it objectively. We’re beginning to develop algorithms that recognize communications such as facial expressions, posture, gestures and what is called paralanguage—emphasis and quality in what people say—with a high degree of accuracy.

Oliver Cann, Scientific American, September 9, 2015

How Small Changes Can Yield Big Results For The Government

Probability in Politics, Government – 

What kind of messages get ignored? What kind prompt you to do something?

Those are questions that a small group of behavioral scientists at the White House has been working on since early last year.

The Social and Behavioral Sciences Team is seeking ways to improve government efficiency and access to government programs through easy, low-cost interventions.

The team issued its first annual report Tuesday, and Maya Shankar, chairwoman of the team, spoke with Robert Siegel about the findings.

NPR, September 15, 2015

Many scientific studies can’t be replicated. That’s a problem.

Probability in Science, Psychology –

Maverick researchers have long argued that much of what gets published in elite scientific journals is fundamentally squishy — that the results tell a great story but can’t be reproduced when the experiments are run a second time.

Now a volunteer army of fact-checkers has published a new report that affirms that the skepticism was warranted. Over the course of four years, 270 researchers attempted to reproduce the results of 100 experiments that had been published in three prestigious psychology journals.

It was awfully hard. They ultimately concluded that they’d succeeded just 39 times.

Joel Achenbach, Washington Post, August 27, 2015

Here’s a Better Way to Adjust for Extreme Weather in the Job Market

Probability in Climate, Economics –

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