Influencing thought

My major underlying motivation for writing analytical blog and forum posts is simply to influence thought. I’m a dork destined to be an academic. I like to track the number of clicks on links, even those on facebook, just to get a sense of how many people are within this sphere of influence. I get gratification when people on SDN cite one of my posts, as if my amateur spreadsheet jockeying could confer some semblance of credibility to their arguments. Occasionally I come across an oddly familiar idea that I convince myself originated from me, and that idea has diffused so widely that it has become apocryphal and no longer deigns to be cited. Just wanted to share an example I read today:

Baylor is on probation with the LCME. On their webpage defending themselves (i.e. explaining to prospective students that they are still fully accredited and a good school), one key point is

Our curriculum enables students to exceed predicted outcomes. For example, MCAT scores are a strong predictor of student performance on the USMLE Step 1 exam, and Baylor students score  8-9 points higher than predicted by their MCAT total score at admission.

I wonder where that 8-9 figure comes from. Hmm. (Look at the first graph.) It’s a figure so specific to that year’s data and the specific schools used to generate the regression that it’s unlikely some other independent analysis produced it.

Alright, that’s enough self-indulgent thoughts for the day.