statistics in Le Monde

In the current weekend edition of Le Monde, science leaflet (soon to disappear from the weekend edition alas!, Pierre Barthélémy wrote his tribune on a (not that recent) PLoS paper on roadkills that seems to use capture-recapture (or should) to evaluate the real number of roadkills from their disappearance rate. And Cédric Villani muses in his carte blanche on the relevance of mathematical models in social sciences, using the recent blunder by Reinhart and Rogoff as an argument: this sounds for the least extreme as there are many counter-examples in political sciences, sociology, psychology, &tc. I think he is missing the point that, while all models are wrong (in the sense physical models can be “right”), there are some models that can prove useful. A last item of interest (?) was the announcement of the new volume in the maths popularisation series, which is dedicated to the fourth dimension. I hope they also deal with higher dimensions, otherwise it could get quickly boring! It reminded me of the textbook I had to teach from the semester I taught basic vector space algebra in Cornell: the chapter on dimension 2 got followed by one on dimension 3, then one on dimension 4…

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