The delicate art of fine trolling

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I’m reading the a 1991 paper by Barbara Tversky that deals with the directional representation of time. One sentence in the paper interview says

“There does not seem to be strong universal cognitive associations of quantity or quality to left or right”

Whenever I make a similar statement in the context of data visualization, I frequently get a self-assured response “of course there is – smaller numbers appear on the left!”. To answer this remark, Barbara Tversky added a small footnote that says

“Anyone in doubt should consult politicians on both the left and the right.”

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So gentle, yet so powerful.

The cardiovascular safety of antiobesity drugs—analysis of signals in the FDA Adverse Event Report System Database

I am glad and proud to announce that a paper which I helped to prepare and publish is available on the Nature’s group site.

The paper, The cardiovascular safety of antiobesity drugs—analysis of signals in the FDA Adverse Event Report System Database, by Einat Gorelik et al. (including myself) analyzes the data in the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS). In this study, we found interesting and relevant safety information about the long-term safety of the antiobesity drug Lorcaserin. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the paper, the review process took about a year. Interestingly enough, the FDA requested the withdrawal of Lorcaserin due to long-term safety issues but not the ones we studied.

I should read more about procrastination. Maybe tomorrow.

You’ve been there: you need to complete a project, submit a report, or document your code. You know how important all these tasks are, but you can’t find the power to do so. Instead, you’re researching those nice pictures the Opportunity rover sent to the Earth, type random letters in Google to see where they will lead you to, tidy up your desk, or make another cup of coffee. You are procrastinating.

Because I procrastinate a lot, and because I have several important tasks to complete, I decided to read more about the psychological background of procrastination. I went to Google Scholar and typed “procrastination.” One of the first results was a paper with a promising title. “The Nature of Procrastination: A Meta-Analytic and Theoretical Review of Quintessential Self-Regulatory Failure” by Piers Steel. Why was I intrigued by this paper? First of all, it’s a meta-analysis, meaning that it reviews many previous quantitative studies. Secondly, it promises a theoretical review, which is also a good thing. So, I decided to read it. I started from the abstract, and here’s what I see:

Strong and consistent predictors of procrastination were task aversiveness, task delay, selfefficacy, and impulsiveness, as well as conscientiousness and its facets of self-control, distractibility, organization, and achievement motivation.

Hmmm, isn’t this the very definition of procrastination? Isn’t this sentence similar to “A strong predictor of obesity is a high ratio between person’s weight to their height?”. Now, I’m really intrigued. I am sure that reading this paper will shed some light, not only on the procrastination itself but also on the self-assuring sentence. I definitely need to read this paper. Maybe tomorrow.


PS. After writing this post, I discovered that the paper author, Piers Steel, has a blog dedicated to “procrastination and science” I will read that blog too. But not today