cs199: Thinking Critically About Data
(Spring 2018)

Instructor: Prof. Rebecca Hutchinson (rebecca.hutchinson@oregonstate.edu)

Class Meetings: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:00-3:20pm in STAG 210.

Credits: 3

Office Hours: By appointment in Prof. Hutchinson's office: KEC 2051.

Textbook: None. Readings will be provided.

Prerequisites: MATH 112 recommended.


Class Lecture Notes

Tentative Schedule:

Week Tuesday Thursday
1 4/3: Introductions
Optional readings:
1. Harry Frankfurt (1986) On Bullshit. Raritan Quarterly Review 6(2)
2. G. A. Cohen (2002) Deeper into Bullshit. Buss and Overton, eds., Contours of Agency: Themes from the Philosophy of Harry Frankfurt Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press
4/5: Cultivating Skepticism
Read before class:
Carl Sagan 1996 The Fine Art of Baloney Detection. (Chapter 12 in The Demon-Haunted World)
Assignment 1 DUE
NY Times Confirmation bias exercise
Fermi estimation questions
2 4/10: Cancelled 4/12: Misleading Visualizations
Watch Calling BS 6.1 before class
3 4/17: Statistical Traps: right censoring, misuse of averages
Assignment 2 DUE
Follow-up readings: right censoring, senesence
4/19: Statistical Traps: averages of groups
Assignment 3 DUE
Simpson's Paradox
4 4/24: Correlation and Causation
Spurious Correlations website
Midterm Project description
(Assignment 4 in class)
4/26: What are p-values?
5 5/1: Refuting Faulty Arguments
(Assignment 5 in class)
(project check-ins)
5/3: No class - project group meeting time
6 5/8: Midterm Project Presentations 5/10: How Science Works
p-hacking exercise
7 5/15: Publication Bias & Predatory Publishing
Ioannidis article
5/17: Cancelled
Final Project description
8 5/22: Fake News 5/24: Big Data
Google n-gram example
Criminality example
9 5/29: Debunking Myths and TED
Assignment 6 DUE (readings below)
Debunking Handbook
A case against TED talks
A rebuttal
Oatmeal comic
5/31: No class - project group meeting time
10 6/5: Project Peer Review
Peer Review Assignment
6/7: Final Project Presentations