Suicide Sessions, Part 1

You, my non-readers, should not be concerned about my welfare.  I haven’t used this site much, and this post is meant to be a quasi-commitment device.  Suicide seems to have come up a lot recently, mostly from Aaron Hernandez and the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why and associated media coverage.  On a distant but still more personal level, one of my old university professors from many years ago killed himself a few weeks ago.

Suicide is a taboo and misunderstood subject.  I plan to take a few posts to pull away our sentimentality and look at data and then take a hard look at what that data might possibly mean.

In the process, I might give you some pretty pictures of unsettling numbers.

About fMRI clusterf**ks

Andrew Gelman has a nice blog post about a recent paper making waves in the fMRI community.  He knows much more than me, but I probably have a bit more experience in this small niche than he does.

I wanted to provide a bit more context/background his recent fMRI post.  Unfortunately, this is another time that a sensational headline misrepresents the actual content of the paper.

Before going any further, it’s useful to keep in mind that fMRI has only been used for about 25 years.  Sure, that sounds like a long time.  In that time, however, there have been great advances in the statistics and statistical methodology.  Things that were published 10 years ago wouldn’t be published today, and things that were published 20 years ago wouldn’t have been published 10 years ago.  I know more about neuroeconomics because of my background and say that some of the landmark papers that people love to cite wouldn’t have been published 5 years later because of higher and better statistical standards.

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I am a human being

I came across this 1989 letter from Joe Eszterhas to Michael Ovitz a few months ago when I was traveling across the US on Amtrak.  There are parts of it that really resonated with me at the time.  A few emails have been exchanged over the last few days which brought it back to my mind.  I’ll repost it here in its entirety, as it is all worth reading.  The specific details are not relevant for my experience in academia, but the general comments that he makes really capture many of my feelings in a more eloquent manner than I ever could.

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