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Why Doctors Are Bad At Stats — And How That Could Affect Your Health

Gerd and his team have explored whether medical professionals understand the statistics measures actually needed to prove that a cancer screening programme saves lives. This is a classic problem in health statistics. What clinicians need to compare is mortality rates, not 5-year survival rates. The mortality rate tells the number of deaths in a period of time. In contrast, the 5-year survival rate only tells how many people live 5 years after the day they have been diagnosed with cancer. Some screening programmes can diagnose people earlier — which can increase those ‘5-year survival rates’ — without making them live any longer.

How expectations influence learning -- ScienceDaily

Using functional magnetic resonance images, the researchers were able to show that different brain connections between the prefrontal cortex and the thalamus were responsible for maintaining a learning strategy or changing the strategy. The higher the expectations before the decision, the sooner the strategy was maintained and the lower the strength of these connections. With low expectations, there was a change of strategy and the regions seemed to interact much more strongly with each other. "The brain appears to be particularly active when a learning strategy has to be changed while it takes significantly less energy to maintain a strategy," concludes Pleger.

Coronavirus: DeWine criticizes those defying orders, including churches; cases reach 2,547 as Ohio designates hospital zones - News - The Daily Record - Wooster, OH

Coronavirus continues its relentless rise in Ohio — advancing toward a projected peak later this month — as 348 more infected Ohioans and 10 more deaths were reported Wednesday. In his daily briefing, Gov. Mike DeWine hinted that extended or new restrictions on residents and businesses were coming as soon as Thursday. He also outlined efforts to expand hospital capacity, including use of convention centers for patients without COVID-19. With limited testing concealing the true extent of the pandemic, total cases rose 16% to at least 2,547 and deaths increased by 18% to 65 total since the virus first was confirmed in Ohio on March 9, state figures show.

The Mathematics of Predicting the Course of the Coronavirus | WIRED

According to IHME’s models, 41 states will need more hospital beds than they currently have. Twelve states will need to boost their numbers of ICU beds by 50 percent or more. The models predict that over the next four months, these shortfalls will contribute to the deaths of 81,000 Americans, with the number of deaths per day peaking as soon as mid-April.

The Eerie Parallels Between Coronavirus and the Bubonic Plague - Rolling Stone

Crises like these — whether it’s a crisis of political legitimacy, or a pandemic that demands response, or some kind of major external war that crops up out of nowhere — the chances are good that whatever snaps under the pressure of that crisis was probably straining already, was probably barely chugging along already. There’s some kind of deep problem that a crisis is going to expose, bring to the fore, and then break very dramatically for everybody to see. We see the crisis and we see the break — and we equate the two. We’re narrative creatures. That’s how we understand the world. We understand things as a story with a climax, and the break has to be the climax. It’s very hard for us to turn a more analytical eye and see the collection of very small things that lead up to a systemic break. It’s just difficult. But these disasters don’t create these trends so much as they supercharge them.

More pablum from experts

A global, novel virus that keeps us contained in our homes—maybe for months—is already reorienting our relationship to government, to the outside world, even to each other. Some changes these experts expect to see in the coming months or years might feel unfamiliar or unsettling: Will nations stay closed? Will touch become taboo? What will become of restaurants?

Pandemic dodged, but black swan looms

Billionaire investor Hamish Douglass says he is confident the coronavirus outbreak will not develop into a global pandemic that will roil the global economy, but has warned that the probability of a black swan event such as a cyber attack, terrorist attack or pandemic is increasing. The founder of Magellan Financial Group, who spoke to AFR Weekend before he took the stage in front of 2500 Magellan investors at an event in Melbourne, said he had been impressed with the Chinese government’s response to the crisis. “Could you imagine if something like this actually broke out in the United States?” Douglass said.

Pandemic dodged, but black swan looms

Billionaire investor Hamish Douglass says he is confident the coronavirus outbreak will not develop into a global pandemic that will roil the global economy, but has warned that the probability of a black swan event such as a cyber attack, terrorist attack or pandemic is increasing. The founder of Magellan Financial Group, who spoke to AFR Weekend before he took the stage in front of 2500 Magellan investors at an event in Melbourne, said he had been impressed with the Chinese government’s response to the crisis. “Could you imagine if something like this actually broke out in the United States?” Douglass said.

Fragmented physical activity linked to greater mortality risk -- ScienceDaily

The researchers found that for each 10 percent higher activity fragmentation there was a 49 percent increase in the risk of mortality. The researchers defined activity fragmentation as the probability of transitioning from an active state to a sedentary state for each participant, so shorter average activity periods meant higher fragmentation. The researchers also analyzed the duration of each participant's bouts of activity, and found that "percent of activity spent in bouts of less than five minutes" appeared to be another good marker of mortality risk. Each additional 10 percent of active time spent in such short bouts was associated with a 28 percent increase in the chance of mortality. Percent of active time spent in 5- to 10-minute bouts was not a significant indicator of mortality risk.

Estonia is using its citizens’ genes to predict disease

“The genetic risk score will be just another tool for doctors. In addition to measuring cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and body mass index, the genetic risk score will be yet another measurement that our prediction algorithm can use,” says Milani. She explains that they’ve already piloted a number of diseases to be diagnosed  by the algorithm, but this currently takes place at the biobank, not in the doctor’s office. “For the genetic information to be used in everyday practice we need to undertake pretty extensive IT developments — which we’re actually starting now. We’re launching the development of automated decision support software for physicians. So when doctors enter various patient data — such as cholesterol level, blood pressure, and smoking status — in the system, then the genetic risk will be calculated by the algorithm, and it’ll provide specific guidance accordingly.” She adds that the final product will be owned by the government, or to be more specific, by the citizens of Estonia.

Facebook posts better at predicting diabetes, mental health than demographic info -- ScienceDaily

Using an automated data collection technique, the researchers analyzed the entire Facebook post history of nearly 1,000 patients who agreed to have their electronic medical record data linked to their profiles. The researchers then built three models to analyze their predictive power for the patients: one model only analyzing the Facebook post language, another that used demographics such as age and sex, and the last that combined the two datasets. Looking into 21 different conditions, researchers found that all 21were predictable from Facebook alone. In fact, 10 of the conditions were better predicted through the use Facebook data instead of demographic information.

After GWAS studies, how to narrow the search for genes? -- ScienceDaily

Borrowing the machine-learning concept of "cross-validation," Benchmarker enables investigators to use the GWAS data itself as its own control. The idea is to take the GWAS dataset and single out one chromosome. The algorithm being benchmarked then uses the data from the remaining 21 chromosomes (all but X and Y) to make predictions about what genes on the single chromosome are most likely to contribute to the trait being investigated. As this process is repeated for each chromosome in turn, the genes that the algorithm has flagged are pooled. The algorithm is then validated by comparing this group of prioritized genes with the original GWAS results. "You train the algorithm on the GWAS with one chromosome withheld, then go back to that chromosome and ask whether those genes were actually associated with a strong p-value in the original GWAS results," explains Fine. "While these p-values don't represent the exact 'right answers,' they do tell you roughly where some true genetic associations are. The end product is an evaluation of how each algorithm performed."

Owning a dog is influenced by our genetic make-up -- ScienceDaily

"We were surprised to see that a person's genetic make-up appears to be a significant influence in whether they own a dog. As such, these findings have major implications in several different fields related to understanding dog-human interaction throughout history and in modern times. Although dogs and other pets are common household members across the globe, little is known how they impact our daily life and health. Perhaps some people have a higher innate propensity to care for a pet than others." says Tove Fall, lead author of the study, and Professor in Molecular Epidemiology at the Department of Medical Sciences and the Science for Life Laboratory, Uppsala University.

Why Is It So Hard to Predict the Future? - The Atlantic

Two days later, a team member with experience in finance saw that the hryvnia was strengthening amid events he’d thought would surely weaken it. He informed his teammates that this was exactly the opposite of what he’d expected, and that they should take it as a sign of something wrong in his understanding. (Tetlock told me that, when making an argument, foxes often use the word however, while hedgehogs favor moreover.) The team members finally homed in on “between 10 and 13” as the heavy favorite, and they were correct.

Why Is It So Hard to Predict the Future? - The Atlantic

One subgroup of scholars, however, did manage to see more of what was coming. Unlike Ehrlich and Simon, they were not vested in a single discipline. They took from each argument and integrated apparently contradictory worldviews. They agreed that Gorbachev was a real reformer and that the Soviet Union had lost legitimacy outside Russia. A few of those integrators saw that the end of the Soviet Union was close at hand and that real reforms would be the catalyst. The integrators outperformed their colleagues in pretty much every way, but especially trounced them on long-term predictions. Eventually, Tetlock bestowed nicknames (borrowed from the philosopher Isaiah Berlin) on the experts he’d observed: The highly specialized hedgehogs knew “one big thing,” while the integrator foxes knew “many little things.”

Auction bids decline with intensity of competition: Study reveals downside to having more bidders in an auction -- ScienceDaily

The study suggested that the more bidders there are in an auction, the lower each individual bidder perceives their probability of winning, which has demotivating effect on their desire to win the auction. "This is a counterintuitive finding because usually auctioneers would assume that the more bidders there are in an auction, the more money they will make -- the logic being that that the more bidders there are, the more likely it is that there is a bidder with a high willingness to pay for the good," said co-author Associate Professor Agnieszka Tymula from the University of Sydney's School of Economics. "However, it turns out that there is also a downside to having more bidders -- most people bid less."

New theory derived from classical physics predicts how economies respond to major disturbances -- ScienceDaily

The concept for the new model is inspired by classical physics: Linear response theory (LRT) explains, for example, how electric or magnetic substances react to strong electrical or magnetic fields. This is known as susceptibility. It can be measured with special devices, but also be mathematically derived from properties of the material. "We show that LRT applies just as well to input-output economics," says Peter Klimek. "Instead of material properties, we use economic networks; instead of electrical resistance, we determine the susceptibility of economies, their response to shocks." Visualizing economies To make it intuitively understandable how economies work, scientists at the CSH employ an interactive visualization tool. It will be constantly fed with new data until the final version should represent the whole world economy. The tool visualizes the various dependencies of countries and production sectors. "Users can change all kinds of parameters and immediately see the effects across countries and sectors," says Stefan Thurner. A preliminary version, showing Trump tariff effects on Europe, can be seen at https://csh.ac.at/ecores/

Abundance of information narrows our collective attention span - ScienceBlog.com

The scientists have studied Twitter data from 2013 to 2016, books from Google Books going back 100 years, movie ticket sales going back 40 years, and citations of scientific publications from the last 25 years. In addition, they have gathered data from Google Trends (2010-2018), Reddit (2010-2015), and Wikipedia (2012-2017). Rapid exhaustion of attention ressources On this background, they find empirical evidence of ever-steeper gradients and shorter bursts of collective attention given to each cultural item. The paper uses a model for this attention economy to suggest that the accelerating vicissitudes of popular content are driven by increasing production and consumption of content, and therefore are not intrinsic to social media. This results in a more rapid exhaustion of limited attention resources.

'Mindreading' neurons simulate decisions of social partners -- ScienceDaily

The researchers go on to speculate that if simulation neurons became dysfunctional this could restrict social cognition, a symptom of autism. By contrast, they suggest overactive neurons could result in exaggerated simulation of what others might be thinking, which may play a role in social anxiety. The study's lead author, Dr Fabian Grabenhorst from the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, says: "We started out looking for neurons that might be involved in social learning. We were surprised to find that amygdala neurons not only learn the value of objects from social observation but actually use this information to simulate a partner's decisions." Simulating others' decisions is a sophisticated cognitive process that is rooted in social learning. By observing a partner's foraging choices, for instance, we learn which foods are valuable and worth choosing. Such knowledge not only informs our own decisions but also helps us predict the future decisions of our partner.

How to Turn Your Mistakes into an Advantage | Yale Insights

One group was then told that when Best Scoops’ supplier announced a shift to lower-quality beans on its website, Best Scoops preventively found a new supplier. A second group was told that Best Scoops mistakenly used the lower-quality beans until realizing the error and correcting it. Those in the second group, in which Best Scoops erred, reported Best Scoops as more likely to achieve its goals. Other experiments of similar design demonstrated a greater willingness to purchase from companies that made and corrected mistakes compared to those that simply prevented mistakes. Underlying this behavior is a simple chain of assumptions. First, people believe that correcting an error requires greater change to the status quo than preventing one, and therefore greater effort. Second, people tend to associate greater effort with a greater commitment to goals, and so a higher likelihood of achieving them.

Schizophrenia: 30 genes under suspicion -- ScienceDaily

Alex Schier's team has now identified 30 genes in these regions and has been able to show that they have concrete effects on the structure and function of the brain as well as on various behavioral patterns. "Of the 132 suspects, we were ultimately able to establish a more precise perpetrator profile for 30 genes," said Schier. "One of the perpetrators is the transcription factor znf536, which controls the development of the forebrain. This brain region influences our social behavior and the processing of stress." The research team not only deciphered the function of the individual genes, but also generated an atlas of all genes with their respective consequences for the brain

Time to say goodbye to “statistically significant” and embrace uncertainty, say statisticians – Retraction Watch

The bright-line thinking that is emblematic of declaring some results “statistically significant” (p<0.05) and others “not statistically significant” (p>0.05) obscures that uncertainty, and leads us to believe that our findings are on more solid ground than they actually are. We think that the time has come to fully acknowledge these facts and to adjust our statistical thinking accordingly.

First evidence for necessary role of human hippocampus in planning -- ScienceDaily

The work centers on the hippocampal "cognitive map," the brain's spatial localization system discovered by University College of London's John O'Keefe, who was awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. The hippocampal cognitive map has been long thought to allow us to "mentally simulate" the future outcomes of our actions as we plan into the future. However, there had previously been no direct evidence in humans that the hippocampus is actually necessary for planning. "Our results show that both goal-directed planning and remembering locations in space depend on the human hippocampus" says Oliver Vikbladh, a doctoral candidate at New York University's Center for Neural Science and the paper's lead author. "By clarifying the scope of hippocampal contributions to behavior, the study may have implications for diseases that affect the hippocampus, such as epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease."

How genetic background shapes individual differences within a species: Every genome is different and scientists are beginning to understand what this means for life of an organism -- ScienceDaily

With all this information, Hou was able to scan the genomes of all 1000 yeast isolates and accurately guessed which other strains will act like Sigma or the Sake yeast and be completely reliant on the CYS genes to survive. This is similar to being able to single out, from 1000 patients with the same genetic disorder, those individuals who have a higher chance of developing a more severe form of disease.

The unexpected creates reward when listening to music: Scientists prove difference between expected/actual outcomes cause reward response -- ScienceDaily

Using an algorithm, the researchers then determined the reward prediction error for each choice -- the difference between an expected reward and the actual reward received. They compared that data to the MRI data, and found that reward prediction errors correlated with activity in the nucleus accumbens, a brain region that in previous studies has been shown to activate when the subject is experiencing musical pleasure. This is the first evidence that musically elicited reward prediction errors cause musical pleasure. It is also the first time an aesthetic reward such as music has been shown to create such a response. Previous studies have focused on more tangible rewards such as food or money. Subjects whose reward prediction errors most closely matched activity in the nucleus accumbens also showed the most progress in learning the choices that led to the consonant tones. This establishes music as a neurobiological reward capable of motivating learning, showing how an abstract stimulus can engage the brain's reward system to potentially pleasurable effect and motivate us to listen again and again.

Pitch perfect: Strategic language use maximizes the chances of influencing an audience: Researcher determines pitching strategies used by influential entrepreneurs -- ScienceDaily

"In our paper we call it a logical time gap, which basically refers to the idea that if someone pitches an idea to you and you start thinking about how it plays out in the future, then these things don't match because you don't know what the future looks like," Dr van Werven said. "But if you talk about the future in terms of the present, both the evidence and the claim are in the same time and space.