Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Our Work on Modeling of Bipolar Individuals in The Guardian

The title of the entry basically already says everything, but Marc Abrahams (of Ig Nobel Prizes fame) has written an article about our work on modeling bipolar individuals in The Guardian. An excerpt of the blurb also appears in the Improbable Research blog.

The peanut gallery is skewering us. (Well, there is a mixture of coherent opinions that happen to be different from mine --- which I respect, as one could then have an intelligent discussion with such people about the merits or lack thereof of our research --- and then people who are just either trolling or being vitriolic.) I still need to learn not to read the comments section when one of my articles makes the press. Inevitably, those comments are not going to improve my mood.

In case you were wondering, if you look in the papers that have cited our paper (even though there are not many such papers), you will see that some of our ideas have helped subsequent work, that there is now more scientific evidence that the toy model that we cooked up does seem to capture some things (a similar model has now been derived mechanistically drawing from biochemical considerations), etc. The idea is that one can start with a toy model as a perspective to try to get at the simplest possible mechanisms and use such things --- in combination with clinical data to estimate parameters in such simplistic models --- to really try to get somewhere. This is a complementary way to "Big Data" approaches, and I think that trying to use simple (and even extremely simplistic) models can guide experiments, clinical studies, and so on. Our work on its own cannot do this, as we didn't use real data (which we didn't have), but modelling can inform clinical studies (and experimental studies more generally), and data from such studies can be incorporated into simple models to really try to get somewhere. Our paper is one extremely small stone in this endeavor, but I do believe that it is genuinely a stone.

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