Friday, 13 March 2009

What I've been reading

Image of the book cover
The Caves of Steel
by Isaac Asimov

narrated by William Dufris
"When a prominent Spacer is murdered under mysterious circumstances, Elijah Bayley is ordered to the Outer Worlds to help track down the killer. Then he learns that he has been assigned a partner: R. Daneel Olivaw. Worse, the R stands for "robot" - and his positronic partner is made in the image and likeness of the murder victim."
Apparently written in the 1950's, this is as good as any modern-day science fiction, and a lot nearer my taste - no species with strange physiology, for example, and no lengthy descriptions of outer space battles or politics. It's also one of the 'Robot' series, including what I consider to be the genius of the Three Laws of Robotics. If only it were true.

Image of the book cover
How to read a paper
by Trisha Greenhalgh

"This book on evidence-based medicine is used by health care professionals and medical students worldwide. 'How to Read a Paper' explains the meaning of critical appraisal and terms such as numbers needed to treat, how to search the literature, evaluate the different types of papers and put the conclusions to clinical use."
This is a library book I'm reading for university, but it's very readable and extremely interesting. Using real examples that make sense, it points out a huge number of ways that real researchers are misled into thinking they have valid results. Or, alternatively, how to avoid the myriad pitfalls of research. Or even, how to make your inconclusive results mean something conclusive by manipulating the statistical tests. There seem to be so many different ways to get it wrong, and I'm tempted to buy this book just to reinforce my natural cynicism. I have started refusing to believe anything I read or hear without seeing the raw data, which is unhelpful since I mostly don't understand the raw data. It can be quite awkward in casual conversations... "And where is the data to support the assertion that blue Smarties make you sexy?"


Anonymous said...

Blue Smarties make you sexy? Wow, I never knew that. Is that Tim Parr's secret?

Lola said...

Could be... though the connection between 'Tim Parr' and 'sexy' isn't obvious... 'enthusiastic' and 'watch where you're waving that big wooden stick' might be more appropriate.

Anonymous said...

Ha ha-nice one! Half the girls on the course fancy him though.