social, health, political imagery through the lens of George J Huba PhD © 2012-2019

Posts tagged Mathematics

Big data this, big data that. Wow. At the end we will have better ways to sell underwear, automobiles, and “next day” pills (although in the latter case politics and religion might actually trump Amazon and Google). Blind empiricism. Every time you click a key on the Internet it goes into some big database.

“Little data” — lovingly crafted to test theories and collected and analyzed with great care by highly trained professionals — has built our theories of personality, social interactions, the cosmos, and the behavioral economics of  buying or saving.

Big data drives marketing. Little data drives the future through generalizable theory.

Click on the figure below to zoom.

in praise of little data


Toni Krasnic is an established expert in coaching and student development who is well-known in mind mapping circles as a superstar. Mr. Krasnic has written an accessible, concise, and research-based book on using mind maps and other visual learning tools with beginning students. In my opinion, the methods Mr. Krasnic introduces will be an increasing part of elementary school education in the next few decades. Usually in mind mapping books, the method of mind mapping in one computer program or another is the primary focus of the book. Mr. Krasnic places the emphasis where it should be: on using mind mapping tools to SUPPORT EFFECTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES. This is a book about learning and teaching and coaching and classroom exercises using visual learning methods. Mr. Krasnic does not tie the book to any commercial product but rather pairs the book content to learning theory, issues, and techniques. Many of the major mind mapping commercial products are introduced and there are many exceptional examples of mind maps that address real learning issues and support skill acquisition. This books is not about a flashy new computer program that makes pretty pictures. The book is about using powerful visual learning methods starting in elementary school and continuing through life to achieve mastery in many learning situations.

I confess. In 1979 Pete Bentler and I published an article entitled “Simple Minitheories of Love” in the highest prestige journal on personality and social psychology.

Blame it on the exploits of the greatest psychometrician of his generation and a 28 year-old wanna-be psychometrician, both active personality researchers, trying to convince the field that the new statistical modeling methods (Structural Equation Models; LISREL) they were testing would revolutionize the field (I was wrong on that one, too).

Now ask yourself why neither of these guys — nor any of the other main figures in the fields of psychometrics, sociometrics, personality, social psychology, attraction research — ever went on to start a web site to match individuals on the basis of personality and life style questionnaires (I won’t dignify them by calling them tests); such sites became quite lucrative. This was in spite of the fact that at least one (Huba) had the opportunity to do so during the years when he was the Vice President of R&D for a major psychological testing company and later when most of the other competing testing companies hired him as consultant. Or why did the major personality test developer of his generation and the owner of a psychological testing company (the late Doug Jackson) never consider developing such a product?

See a pattern here? Even the folks who made the most $$$ from psychological instruments and had the most influence in the psychological assessment journals and industry did not develop a Love Site.

I concede that a Love Site may be a good place to find people you might not never meet otherwise through your social and work friends and these might be good mates or sex partners. Or they might be psychopaths, perpetuators of sexual or domestic violence, dependent individuals, or alcoholics.

So far as I can tell from the undisclosed algorithms of the dating sites and their unpublished outcomes, I have no way of knowing for sure if the sites have a good chance of producing a good outcome and avoiding a terrible (and life-threatening) one. I suspect that if there were strong scientific evidence that the sites “work” in both cases, there would be a lot of scientific research published that supports this notion. Where is the incontrovertible evidence? Can I can read it or hear it at professional conventions? Claims on TV that a lot of people got married mean little or nothing without information about comparison groups or negative outcomes.

I would have no problem concluding that the Love Sites are effective if there were psychometric and other scientific evidence that the algorithms used are valid. Without such evidence, I worry that they are more voodoo and “smoke and mirrors” than places where you can find a mate and your date will not result in a rape. Of course I cannot prove my position is right, but neither can the Love Sites. My stance is safer for individuals.

There is that old fashioned system of “meet and greet and respect the people you meet” that did produce so many humans that we now have a problem with world-wide population growth. Sometimes older methods work better if you are patient.

Love Sites

This figure shows my current core set of apps. I use these about 90% of the time when I am on the iPhone (in addition to the built-in apps). This set of apps permits you to do some pretty advanced calculations, manage tasks, write longish memos, clean up your pictures, use social media, show movies, take notes, and store web pages for later reading.

Who woulda thought in 1967 that tricorders would exist during the lifetimes of my high school friends and I; cell phones did not become available for another 20 years, and the original scientific calculator was released about 1974.

Now half of the adults around me in a college town look like Spock staring into his beloved tricorder (about 8 times the size of an iPhone). A lot of them seem to have about the same degree of social intelligence as Spock as they stare at the machines in restaurants with their friends.

Without further ado, a look at what is on my iPhone.

iphone 5 apps daily core set

Keyword Board

iphone 5 apps: daily core set photography perfectly clear media amazon instant video youtube netflix mind mapping imindmap social media tweetbot pinterest tweetings word press blog task management due clear magazine zite pocket © 2013 g j huba other scan myscript calculator calcbot wolfram alpha notes draft skitch fastfinga3 evernote ia writer day one

BIG Data is coming (or has already come) to healthcare. [It is supposed to usher in new eras of research, economic responsibility, quality and access to healthcare, and better patient outcomes, but that is a subject for another post because it is putting the carriage before the horse to discuss it here.]

What is a data scientist? A new form of bug, a content expert who also knows data issues, an active researcher, someone trained in data analysis and statistics, someone who is acutely aware of relevant laws and ethical concerns in mining health data, a blind empiricist?

This is a tough one because it also touches on how many $$$$$ (€€€€€. ¥¥¥¥¥ , £££££, ﷼﷼﷼﷼﷼, ₩₩₩₩₩, ₱₱₱₱₱) individuals and corporations can make off the carcass of a dying healthcare system.

Never one to back away from a big issue and in search of those who value good healthcare for all over the almighty $ € ¥ £ ₨ ﷼ ₩ ₱, here are some of my thoughts on this issue.

Click image to zoom.

who is a health data scientist

Content knowledge by a well-trained, ethical individual who respects privacy concerns is Queen. Now and forever.

Keyword Board

topics and subtopics: who is a “health” data scientist? trained in healthcare? methodology research databases management information systems psychology? psychometrics other public health? epidemiology other medicine? nursing? social work? education? biostatistics? medical informatics? applied mathematics? engineering? theoretical mathematics? theoretical-academic statistics? information technology? computer science? other? conclusions must know content 70% methods 30% must honor ethics 100% laws practice privacy criminal civil federal state other greatest concerns correctness of results conclusions ethical standards meaningfulness validity reliability privacy utility expert in content field data analysis data systems ethics and privacy other member? association with ethics standards licensed? physician nurse psychologist social worker other regulated? federal hipaa state other insured? professional liability errors and omissions continuing education requirements? ethics renewal of licensure regulatory standards insurer commonsense laws go away if not well trained content field data analysis not statistics committed clean data meaningfulness subject privacy peer review openness ethics ethics ethics are arrogant narrow-minded purely commercial primarily motivated $$$$$ blind number cruncher atheoretical © 2013 g j huba

I love to read end of year lists each December. I love to make them too.

I worked on a PC exclusively for 25 years. Two years ago in retirement I tossed the PCs and bought a Macbook Pro. The consequence of having this cool new machine with an operating system that actually worked was that I had to rethink how to use current creative software to replace all of the (Microsoft) bloat on a PC.

This is my list of my favorite apps. Note that I use my Macbook for “professional” activities like writing and surfing the web and blogging and social media and my digital photographs. I do not do games nor software that looks like it was designed for five-year-olds.

You can zoom by clicking on the image.

I use the paid or pro versions because the extra features are useful to me. You might be able to get by just fine with a free or minimal features version.

Huba Mac Recommendations  2012

Uh oh. Some one who defines himself as a content (psychology, social care, health care, public safety net programs) expert is going to go where the experts on mind mapping dare not tread.

My inspiration for this post comes from the application work of Philippe Packu and especially Hans Buskes as well as mathematical models, pragmatism, and the fact that I like to discuss the undiscussed.

Uh oh. Math and mind maps. Scary indeed. What is he thinking?

As I see it, mind mapping has evolved over the past 50 years in a predictable way.

Mind Mapping 1.0 was a discussion of those funny radial diagrams, why they might be important, which types of inquiry (brainstorming, summarizing, presenting, consensus building, information retrieval, memory) might be enhanced by these funny diagrams, feared by many because of the necessity at the time to have at least moderate artistic skills and the willingness to stand up in front of 50 people and display them. The giant in the era of Mind Mapping 1.0 was Tony Buzan who developed a series of core concepts about visual thinking and spread them widely in professional and public circles.

As part of his huge contribution, Buzan developed a series of “laws” of mind mapping. Much discussion of these suggested general principles has ensued. It would not be overstating to say that the degree to which one endorses these laws explains much of a split into different mind mapping “factions.” It is also important to remember that mind map use and training can anchor a very lucrative consulting practice and that factions will almost automatically arise as the consultants seek to differentiate themselves from one another. This is not bad, and the development of factions can drive theoretical development as it has in this case. A second faction of mind mappers – tending to be associated with the computer product family Mindjet – has also arisen. There are other variants lying along a continuum with Buzan and Mindjet defining the end points.

Mind Mapping 2.0 is a glorious era when the whole world can draw mind maps fairly easily using a large group of computer programs (expanding daily) to promote memory, creativity, brainstorming, collaboration, consensus, organization, information encoding, information retrieval, God, country, and Queen. We are right at the peak of that era when creativity has moved us into a period of great growth and enthusiasm. We have at least a dozen good products for expanding the empire, and an audience that is listening. So we need to get an effective, computer-era definition of mind mapping.

Mathematical (and other scientific) models usually go through a series of stages in which specific models are developed and rules of applicability are stated, a period of generalization in which the rules of applicability are stretched to fit more phenomena, and a later stage when the most general model is derived and tested in many different application areas.

The parallel in the mind mapping world was the development of Buzan’s “laws” for successful mind mapping, the “stretching” of Buzan’s model by making his laws more general or even ignoring some of them, and finally a model in which mind maps as we know them are but a subset of a more general model of information visualization (including dozens of similar techniques which go under different names in their parallel development universes). The best taxonomy of related information visualization methods is the Wiki developed by Roy Grubb. A general model can subsume most of the techniques discussed by Mr. Grubb.

My definition: Mind Mapping is a set of information visualization techniques that can be incorporated as a subset within the overall computational equations of a very general computer program iMindMap.

OMG. He’s defining mind mapping in terms of a specific “mind map” program developed by a company partially owned by Tony Buzan. Has he been drinking?

I doubt either Mr. Buzan or the ThinkBuzan company would agree with my definition at this time. They are wrong.

Developing a computer program to implement a information theory model requires a huge amount of effort in concretely defining a number of issues discussed loosely in words. Computers need SPECIFIC instructions. What often happens in (the best) computer program development is that in coding a variety of steps and subprocesses necessary to accomplish a general goal require  that a number of specific decisions be addressed (parameterized). Often rather than making an arbitrary yes/no, big/small, curvy-organic/straight decision, computer programmers implement a parameter whose value can be specified as an option (such as “how much curve do you want in the branch” or “which set of colors do you want to use in a map or “should you allow one-two-hundreds of words on a mind map branch”).

iMindMap is a program parameterized in such a way so that every other mind mapping procedure currently extant can be produced using the program. Hhhmmm. And, various information visualizations not necessarily currently called mind maps (concept maps, timelines, statistical graphics) can be produced in the program. We are seeing a very general information visualization model in the program that permits us to develop different parameterizations that have historically had different names attached.

Yes you can produce maps that look like those prepared from different mind map programs within iMindMap. Yes you can produce concept maps within iMindMap. Yes you can produce timelines within iMindMap. Yes you can produce path diagrams. Yes you can incorporate quantitative data. See the blogs of Hans Buskes and Philippe Pack and others including mine for many examples of generalizing the traditional Buzan model all within the iMindMap parameterization.

iMindMap will probably be rapidly superceded by more general models that relax further traditional assumptions and permit even more parameterizations. ThinkBuzan seems to produce such generalizations annually.

Again note that the general model incorporated in iMindMap can be reduced to specific models or the equivalent of different computer programs depending upon how the general model is parameterized.

I believed that the parameterization based general model should be attributed to Chris Griffiths although many others have undoubtedly also contributed to it as well.

Mind Mapping 3.0 is all about taking the promise of the general information visualization model and incorporating important, valid, reliable, actionable data into the application of the general model. Mind Mapping 3.0 is starting and will become a tsunami in the next five years. I promise.

Note: I often use mind maps in my blog posts. I intentionally did not include a map here because I did not want the style I usually incorporate in my own mind maps to confuse the issues above.

The elegance of math is something that has always fascinated me.

In ninth grade I won the state mathematics championship with a project that looked at some of the implications of nonlinear measurement. Almost 50 years ago. I doubt I could understand the modern version of this ninth grade knowledge from the 1960s.

In 1969 I discovered the lava lamp in the East Village of Manhattan. Back then the East Village was one of the most run-down parts of New York, as was Harlem. I wish I had purchased townhouses in both the East Village and Harlem back then. Former heroin shooting galleries are now multi-million dollar townhouses and four star restaurants. (more…)

Is there a “DNA” for the universe? It comforts me to think that there is and that the mathematical skills we have been given can help us to uncover it. Will we ever be able to know the “god equation?” I don’t think so as the complexity is undoubtedly beyond human comprehension. Can we approximate it? Maybe. At the most abstract level this is why we have “developed” religious beliefs.

In this era of super computing for even the most mundane problems, we have learned that there are alternate, acceptable algorithms for solving very complex equations through estimation. Different methods require different assumptions for the equation to “work.” Kind of like the assumptions of the Torah or the Christian Bible or the Q’uran or the many Eastern holy texts I have not studied.

Maybe we should all be studying a little more math and science and get over problems caused by some preliminary and perhaps faulty interpretations of the “god equation.” Math and science are not my god but they may help me imperfectly approximate the unknowable.

Fractals help me contemplate this.