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Tag: current events

Prudential's "Stickers" Commercial

I spotted a dot plot while watching TV the other day:

It isn't too frequently that one sees a dot plot on TV, so this is a good opportunity to discuss something students might have encountered. Using this commercial might be a worthwhile topic of discussion in a statistics lesson.

The apparently constructed the dot plot by asking 400 people "How old is the oldest person you've known?" A few more details can be gleaned from the Prudential website and a "behind the scenes" video that was shot.

A few things that can be discussed with students come to mind:

  • What can we actually conclude from the dot plot?
  • The description of the YouTube video describes this as an "experiment" (as does the narrator in the behind the scenes video). Is this really an experiment?
  • What do we know about the sample?
  • What happens as we get older in terms of the oldest person "[we]'ve known"? (Children and adults with a wide range of ages are asked to place a sticker.)

There's a 30 second version of the advertisement, too.

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Peer Review and Open Access in the Headlines Again

Peer Review and Open Access on the Radio

The internal systems used by research and academia are not often the subject of discussion by members of the public. They are, after all, somewhat tedious and removed from the lives of a vast majority of people. Because of this, when I was listening to NPR on Friday morning and heard the words "peer review" and "open access", I immediately turned up the volume to listen in.

NPR was interviewing John Bohannon regarding a study he conducted wherein he sent an article that was written to be deliberately bad to several hundred open access journals. Bohannon wrote about this study for Science as "Who's Afraid of Peer Review?" In the end, a majority of the journals he submitted to ultimately accepted the paper despite the fundamental flaws (that were ostensibly obvious to anyone with some modicum of training in the field) it contained. NPR ran the story as "Some Online Journals Will Publish Fake Science, For A Fee" and describes the study as a "sting". Bohannon is quoted as saying that the sting revealed "the contours of an emerging Wild West in academic publishing."

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