Where am I supposed to go? Where was I supposed to know?get lost in questionsmore quotes

# at a glance

Scientific graphical abstracts — design guidelines

# Dummer - Like Nothing Else / A Hummer Satire

The Dummer project might give you the impression that I don't like Hummers. You'd be right.

What's after worst? This. (Dummer. Like nothing else.)

The project was well received by The New York Times and very poorly by someone who felt sending me hate mail was a good idea. It was — I loved it.

Other Hummer satires include fuh2.com — there's some hope for us all.

# The World's Most Popular Questions

What are the world's most popular questions? After all, what we know defines us as much as what we ask. So, let's look at who we are.

Using Google's autocomplete feature, which suggests the most similar searches to the one you have entered, I maintain a real-time compilation of the most common questions asked by millions of worldwide internet users.

This project (a) yields insight into the zeitgeist and (b) scares me. My reason for fright are questions such as these:

### General Issues

How do people do extreme couponing?

Why can't I hold all these limes?

Why do I always feel like murdering everyone?

### What's up with the World

Is the world really flat?

is the world being controlled by aliens?

### Limits & Desires

What happens if I make a formal commitment to Satan?

### Love & Heart

Why is my boyfriend so insecure?

Why is my girlfriend so emotional?

### Health

My head is full of pretty lumps.

### Pain & Suffering

my elbow is dark and dry

why do I continue to hit myself with a hammer?

when does my head stop growing?

### Sizes & Extremes

Who is the most powerful Jedi?

### Religion & Faith

Can Jesus microwave a burrito?

Can I pray with my eyes open?

Should I pray for a husband?

# Neologisms - New Words, Much Needed

I like words. The pleasure of effectively using acerebral and defenestrate in the same sentence cannot be understated.

On occassion I found myself in a situation where no word fit, existing or that I know about. Instead of rushing to the dictionary, I decided to make up my own, such as inconversible (a statement without a logical converse), mystific (unexplainably wonderful), postpetizer (course ordered after dessert), prenopsis (a summary of something formulated before it was experienced), suscitate (breathe life into, for the first time), and others.

# HDTR: High Dynamic Time Range Photography - Visualizing the Flow of Time

The HDTR method is a new approach to depicting the passage of time. High Dynamic Time Range (HDTR) images and are a composite of many photos taken over a long period of time, such as a day or even longer. Each part of the HDTR image is sampled from a different photo, either by column or row.

An HDTR is generated from a set of time-lapse images. Here, a simple HDTR is created from 5 images taken at different times. From each image, a strip representing 20% of the image is extracted and the strips are blended to reduce banding artefacts. (hires)

For example, the left part of the HDTR image might show the scene from 7am and the very right from 8pm, capturing the variation in light across an entire day.

An HDTR image shows the flow of time across a scene. Here the Vancouver skyline is shown from about 6pm (left) to 9pm (right). (Download)

# Standardization fallacy

Tue 09-02-2021

We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty! —D. Adams

A popular notion about experiments is that it's good to keep variability in subjects low to limit the influence of confounding factors. This is called standardization.

Unfortunately, although standardization increases power, it can induce unrealistically low variability and lead to results that do not generalize to the population of interest. And, in fact, may be irreproducible.

Nature Methods Points of Significance column: Standardization fallacy. (read)

Not paying attention to these details and thinking (or hoping) that standardization is always good is the "standardization fallacy". In this column, we look at how standardization can be balanced with heterogenization to avoid this thorny issue.

Voelkl, B., Würbel, H., Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2021) Points of significance: Standardization fallacy. Nature Methods 18:5–6.

# Graphical Abstract Design Guidelines

Fri 13-11-2020

Clear, concise, legible and compelling.

Making a scientific graphical abstract? Refer to my practical design guidelines and redesign examples to improve organization, design and clarity of your graphical abstracts.

Graphical Abstract Design Guidelines — Clear, concise, legible and compelling.

# "This data might give you a migrane"

Tue 06-10-2020

An in-depth look at my process of reacting to a bad figure — how I design a poster and tell data stories.

A poster of high BMI and obesity prevalence for 185 countries.

# He said, he said — a word analysis of the 2020 Presidential Debates

Thu 01-10-2020

Building on the method I used to analyze the 2008, 2012 and 2016 U.S. Presidential and Vice Presidential debates, I explore word usagein the 2020 Debates between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

Analysis of word usage by parts of speech for Trump and Biden reveals insight into each candidate.

# Points of Significance celebrates 50th column

Mon 24-08-2020

We are celebrating the publication of our 50th column!

To all our coauthors — thank you and see you in the next column!

Nature Methods Points of Significance: Celebrating 50 columns of clear explanations of statistics. (read)

# Uncertainty and the management of epidemics

Mon 24-08-2020

When modelling epidemics, some uncertainties matter more than others.

Public health policy is always hampered by uncertainty. During a novel outbreak, nearly everything will be uncertain: the mode of transmission, the duration and population variability of latency, infection and protective immunity and, critically, whether the outbreak will fade out or turn into a major epidemic.

The uncertainty may be structural (which model?), parametric (what is $R_0$?), and/or operational (how well do masks work?).

This month, we continue our exploration of epidemiological models and look at how uncertainty affects forecasts of disease dynamics and optimization of intervention strategies.

Nature Methods Points of Significance column: Uncertainty and the management of epidemics. (read)

We show how the impact of the uncertainty on any choice in strategy can be expressed using the Expected Value of Perfect Information (EVPI), which is the potential improvement in outcomes that could be obtained if the uncertainty is resolved before making a decision on the intervention strategy. In other words, by how much could we potentially increase effectiveness of our choice (e.g. lowering total disease burden) if we knew which model best reflects reality?

This column has an interactive supplemental component (download code) that allows you to explore the impact of uncertainty in $R_0$ and immunity duration on timing and size of epidemic waves and the total burden of the outbreak and calculate EVPI for various outbreak models and scenarios.

Nature Methods Points of Significance column: Uncertainty and the management of epidemics. (Interactive supplemental materials)

Bjørnstad, O.N., Shea, K., Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2020) Points of significance: Uncertainty and the management of epidemics. Nature Methods 17.