Ridgeline Plots, Indistractable, Why We Sleep, & Quantum Computing

Looking over the shoulder of a woman holding a cell phone with a black screen

Below are articles and other resources I found interesting through my work as a program evaluator, professor, and psychologist. The digests I share mostly relate to evaluation, psychology, health, and education. I also usually include a quote, book, and an event that may interest you.


Ridgeline Plot (Yan Holtz)
Here is a cool way to present a data visualization of a series of distributions for multiple groups. This approach is especially helpful for non-normal distributions when only plotting the means would be misleading. A series of dot plots or histograms can be used. R code is provided.


Indistractable (Nir Eyal)
Nir’s neologism, which is his book title, will soon be commonly used to refer to this concept of maintaining increased focus on the important stuff. Four of the strategies shared include: “master internal triggers, make time for traction, hack back external triggers, and prevent distraction with pacts.” Here is post on his website summarizing some of the key concepts covered in his book and an interview with him. I am reminded of this study by Kang and Kurtzberg (2019) recently shared by Barbara Oakley in her Learning How to Learn newsletter showing the cognitive toll of checking your cell phone. I am working on this although it’s difficult: increasing self-awareness of this good first step to noticing and decreasing how often I interrupt what I am doing to check my phone, email, apps., etc.


Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams (Matthew Walker)
Reading this book increased my awareness of the role of sleep in psychological and physical well-being. Matthew describes sleep as the foundation of health, not only as a pillar. His podcast interviews with Peter Attia are lengthy but worth listening to. Matthew said, “I think that sleep may be one of the most significant lifestyle factors that determines your risk ratio for Alzheimer’s disease.”


Schrödinger’s cheetah: Proof emerges that a quantum computer can outperform a classical one  (The Economist)
Increases in computing power will continue to impact most everything we do. A leaked paper to be published in Nature revealed some incredible results: “Using a quantum computer, researchers at the information-technology giant [Google] had carried out in a smidgen over three minutes a calculation that would take Summit, the world’s current best classical supercomputer, 10,000 years to execute.” Use of this technology, converging with others such as AI, can help us solve the difficult problems we face. Google’s website explains their research efforts.


“A Mindful South Florida” community event consists of a reception and presentations at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables on Friday, December 6th from 5pm to 8:30pm. In addition, Nova Southeastern University faculty (including me) will be offering a one-day post-event workshop on Saturday, December 14th titled, “Mindfulness-Based Self-Care for First Responders and the Healing and Helping Professions.” The NSU event is free. There are post-event workshops at other locations and dates as well.

“Failure is a teacher; a harsh one, but the best.” Thomas J. Watson


More Digest Posts:

Density Plots, Atomic Habits, Nutrition & Fasting, Sapiens, & #VizUM2019

Depression & Exercise, Cohen’s U3, Impact of Vaping, & Super Thinking


James Pann smiling at the camera, sitting in front of green trees

James Pann, Ph.D. is a Professor at Nova Southeast University and a highly experienced psychologist and evaluator with nearly 25 years of experience. He conducts research and evaluation projects with non-profit organizations in the fields of health, human services, and education, and has received funding from multiple government agencies.

James holds multiple degrees including a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology, an M.S. Ed. from the University of Miami, and a BBA in Accounting from the University of Texas at Austin. He is also the host of the EvalNetwork podcast, a frequent conference presenter, and has published several peer-reviewed research articles and co-authored a book. James currently resides in Miami, Florida with his family and enjoys backpacking trips. Find out more about his work here.


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