The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was rebranding trigonometry as pre-calculus, as if it was a step toward something useful or interesting.
(As a commenter points out, this how the devil introduced sin into the classroom. Cos and tan too.)
In all seriousness, what I *would* like to see for pre-calc would be the fundamental conceptual ideas. Derivatives as slopes or rates of change. Integrals as areas under curves.

And most importantly, why the fundamental theorem of calculus is remarkable rather than tautological.
I acknowledge the sampling bias associated with teaching in the biology department, but in my 400-level mathematical biology and game theory courses, almost none of the students who took the @UW calculus series prerequisite could answer this question.
That's a powerful indictment of how we teach calculus.
As refreshing as it is to have pissed people off without posting about Covid, my point is not that trig is useless.

The point is that trig is not pre-[anything]. It's trig.

How would you answer "I don't understand. Why do I need to know this before I can learn calculus?"
@UW Here's an even better set of conceptual questions in this vein.

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More from @CT_Bergstrom

8 Apr
1. Thread: Proactive testing in a partially vaccinated population.

I will start with a disclosure. The work described was done in collaboration with @Color Health and I was paid as a consultant for my efforts. I have no financial stake in COVID tests, treatments, or vaccines.
2. Large-scale proactive testing has been an important COVID control measure, because it identifies those who are presymptomatic, asymptomatic, or paucisymptomatic and allows them to self-isolate.

As vaccination becomes widespread, two questions arise:
3. First, at what level of vaccine coverage is proactive testing no longer necessary?

Second, as we transition to this point, what are best practices for tapering off testing efforts?

I explored these questions with @RS_McGee, @ay_zhou, @jrhomburger, and @hewillia34.
Read 24 tweets
7 Apr
I appreciate the effort to amplify my message, but it’s a bit frustrating to have this written as if I provided an interview. In actuality, it is a summary of a Twitter thread I wrote yesterday. I wish that were clearer and not hidden behind a link.
The entire article—not just this tweet—is written as if I provided an interview.

The errors make me look bad.

Their quote about what happens if we “eventually achieve herd immunity”...?

Taken directly from my answer to the question “If we *don’t* achieve herd immunity...”
@Mynorthwest @NickNorthwest Whether or not you clarify the source of the article, please fix the error above, where you’ve turned my meaning around 180°. The last thing we need is more misinformation and confusion about Covid and herd immunity.
Read 5 tweets
6 Apr
1. People have a lot of questions about the concept of herd immunity and what it means for COVID-19. What is it, can we get there, what does it get us if do, etc. In this thread, I'll try to answer some of these.
2. Q: What *is* herd immunity?

A: When a large fraction of a population is immune to a disease, a *new* outbreak of that disease can no longer take off and spread. The herd immunity threshold is the point at which enough people are immune for this to be the case.
3. Q: How does it work?

A: An outbreak grows from one case to many when each person who is infected transmits disease to more than one other person on average.

Conversely, if each person transmits to fewer than one person on average, an outbreak will quickly fizzle out.
Read 32 tweets
4 Apr
1. In the op-ed pages of newspapers and on cable news shows, I'm seeing frequent confusion over what it means to reach herd immunity—and whether we can relax COVID precautions once we do so.

It will take a few posts, but let me try to explain.
2. The key thing to note is that the herd immunity threshold is the point at enough people are immune (by vaccination or previous infection) to prevent a new epidemic from starting from scratch.

It is *not* the point at which an ongoing epidemic disappears.
3. When you reach herd immunity, a pandemic is far from over. In fact, in a basic SEIR model, an ongoing epidemic is at its *peak* when the herd immunity threshold is reached.
Read 15 tweets
2 Apr
New arXiv preprint: Kathy Brauer's, “I’ll Finish It This Week” And Other Lies

tl;dr: We suck at estimating how long it will take us to do things that don't have deadlines, and we don't improve much over the course of a career.… Image
Serious point: academia would grind to an absolute halt if it were not for closely related cognitive distortions.

Example: It's 1:30 AM and I'm working on a promotion letter that is due tomorrow.

When I agreed to do it, I figured "Why not, I won't be busy then like I am now."
I was wrong, of course.

And that's generally true of ever manuscript or grant review I agree to write, every seminar I agree to give, every collaboration I agree to add to my plate....
Read 6 tweets
30 Mar
I find it odd that the @IHME_UW would choose to advertise its broad impact on the US Covid response by tweeting a picture of Deborah Birx and the IHME model predicting that the pandemic would go to zero with 100% probability by July 2020.

And indeed one year later there are indeed many unanswered questions.

Most importantly: what happened, why were the serious (and ultimately correct) concerns expressed by much of the research community ignored, what has been learned, and what is going to be different in the future?

Read 5 tweets

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