Posted by: wolf | May 9, 2008

one line of code and we’re in the 21st century

(the first part doesn’t really have to do with the second, except for its silliness)

Yesterday I listened to a talk about (psychometric) reliability estimation for instruments composed of binary items (as in true/false). It wasn’t really that interesting, but OTOH not as boring as it may seem. Still, most of what I remember is one thing the speaker repeated several times:

“just one line of code and we’re in the 21st century!”

He said there was a saying among statisticians: in the 20th century, it was all about point estimates; now in the 21st century, it’s about estimating confidence intervals for those parameters. I really do like this saying, but he really made a caricature of it (and himself, by the way) since he did never show us how the CIs in his special case were estimated (in terms of formulae) — he just showed us the input file for the Mplus program he used in his special case ending with

OUTPUT: CINTERVAL;

Don’t you feel the magic of that line? ONE LINE OF CODE AND WE’RE IN THE 21ST CENTURY! ONE LINE OF CODE AND WE’RE IN THE 21ST CENTURY! ONE LINE OF CODE AND WE’RE IN THE 21ST CENTURY! ONE LINE OF CODE AND WE’RE IN THE 21ST CENTURY!

I have to stop this.

I was in a hilarious mood anyway, because on the way I had seen someone was planning an experiment on altruism with fMRI. Well, he wouldn’t be the first. Actually, I don’t know if this isn’t even more awesome than the one line of code in the 21st century:

The brain’s reward center lights up on an MRI image when subjects give money to charity.

I repeat:

The brain’s reward center lights up on an MRI image when subjects give money to charity.

I think my own brain’s reward center is so much lightening up right now, I can turn off the lights; and don’t even mention boobies.

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