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A quick rule of thumb is that when someone seems to be acting like a jerk, an economist will defend the behavior as being the essence of morality, but when someone seems to be doing something nice, an economist will raise the bar and argue that he’s not being nice at all.

Like Pee Wee Herman, act like a jerk And get on the dance floor let your body work I wanted to follow up on a remark from a few years ago about the two modes of pop-economics reasoning: You take some fact (or stylized fact) about the world, and then you either (1) use people-are-rational-and-who-are-we-to-judge-others […]

Proposed new EPA rules requiring open data and reproducibility

Tom Daula points to this news article by Heidi Vogt, “EPA Wants New Rules to Rely Solely on Public Data,” with subtitle, “Agency says proposal means transparency; scientists see public-health risk.” Vogt writes: The Environmental Protection Agency plans to restrict research used in developing regulations, the agency said Tuesday . . . The new proposal […]

A few words on a few words on Twitter’s 280 experiment.

Gur Huberman points us to this post by Joshua Gans, “A few words on Twitter’s 280 experiment.” I hate twitter but I took a look anyway, and I’m glad I did, as Gans makes some good points and some bad points, and it’s all interesting. Gans starts with some intriguing background: Twitter have decided to […]

The cargo cult continues

Juan Carlos Lopez writes: Here’s a news article: . . . Here’s the paper: . . . [Details removed to avoid embarrassing the authors of the article in question.] I [Lopez] am especially bothered by the abstract of this paper, which makes bold claims in the context of a small and noisy study which measurements […]

Individual and aggregate causal effects: Social media and depression among teenagers

This one starts out as a simple story of correction of a statistical analysis and turns into an interesting discussion of causal inference for multilevel models. Michael Daly writes: I saw your piece on ‘Have Smartphone Destroyed a Generation’ and wanted to flag some of the associations underlying key claims in this debate (which is […]

There’s nothing embarrassing about self-citation

Someone sent me an email writing that one of my papers “has an embarrassing amount of self-citation.” I’m sorry that this person is embarrassed on my behalf. I’m not embarrassed at all. If I wrote something in the past that’s relevant, it makes sense to cite it rather than repeating myself, no? A citation is […]

What is “blogging”? Is it different from “writing”?

Thomas Basbøll wrote: To blog is not to write in a particular style, or publish in a particular form. Rather, blogging is an experience that is structured by a particular functionality. . . . What makes it a blog is a structural coordination of the blogger and the audience. . . . Blogging, in my […]

Carol Nickerson investigates an unfounded claim of “17 replications”

Carol Nickerson sends along this report in which she carefully looks into the claim that the effect of power posing on feelings of power has replicated 17 times. Also relevant to the discussion is this post from a few months ago by Joe Simmons, Leif Nelson, and Uri Simonsohn. I am writing about this because […]


[relevant picture] In a news article, “Pasta Is Good For You, Say Scientists Funded By Big Pasta,” Stephanie Lee writes: The headlines were a fettuccine fanatic’s dream. “Eating Pasta Linked to Weight Loss in New Study,” Newsweek reported this month, racking up more than 22,500 Facebook likes, shares, and comments. The happy news also went […]

Postdoc opportunity at AstraZeneca in Cambridge, England, in Bayesian Machine Learning using Stan!

Here it is: Predicting drug toxicity with Bayesian machine learning models We’re currently looking for talented scientists to join our innovative academic-style Postdoc. From our centre in Cambridge, UK you’ll be in a global pharmaceutical environment, contributing to live projects right from the start. You’ll take part in a comprehensive training programme, including a focus […]

Psychometrics corner: They want to fit a multilevel model instead of running 37 separate correlation analyses

Anouschka Foltz writes: One of my students has some data, and there is an issue with multiple comparisons. While trying to find out how to best deal with the issue, I came across your article with Martin Lindquist, “Correlations and Multiple Comparisons in Functional Imaging: A Statistical Perspective.” And while my student’s work does not […]


Regarding this paper, Frank Harrell writes: One grammatical correction: Alvan Feinstein, the ‘father of clinical epidemiology’ at Yale, educated me about ‘trichotomy’. dichotomous = Greek dicho (two) + tomous (cut). Three = tri so the proper word would be ‘tritomous’ instead of ‘trichotomous’. Uh oh. I can’t bring myself to use the word “tritomous” as […]

“Statistics: Learning from stories” (my talk in Zurich on Tues 28 Aug)

Statistics: Learning from stories Andrew Gelman, Department of Statistics and Department of Political Science, Columbia University, New York Here is a paradox: In statistics we aim for representative samples and balanced comparisons, but stories are interesting to the extent that they are surprising and atypical. The resolution of the paradox is that stories can be […]

Using partial pooling when preparing data for machine learning applications

Geoffrey Simmons writes: I reached out to John Mount/Nina Zumel over at Win Vector with a suggestion for their vtreat package, which automates many common challenges in preparing data for machine learning applications. The default behavior for impact coding high-cardinality variables had been a naive bayes approach, which I found to be problematic due its multi-modal output (assigning […]

An Upbeat Mood May Boost Your Paper’s Publicity

Gur Huberman points to this news article, An Upbeat Mood May Boost Your Flu Shot’s Effectiveness, which states: A new study suggests that older people who are in a good mood when they get the shot have a better immune response. British researchers followed 138 people ages 65 to 85 who got the 2014-15 vaccine. […]

Taking perspective on perspective taking

Gabor Simonovits writes: I thought you might be interested in this paper with Gabor Kezdi of U Michigan and Peter Kardos of Bloomfield College, about an online intervention reducing anti-Roma prejudice and far-right voting in Hungary through a role-playing game. The paper is similar to some existing social psychology studies on perspective taking but we […]

Generable: They’re building software for pharma, with Stan inside.

Daniel Lee writes: We’ve just launched our new website. Generable is where precision medicine meets statistical machine learning. We are building a state-of-the-art platform to make individual, patient-level predictions for safety and efficacy of treatments. We’re able to do this by building Bayesian models with Stan. We currently have pilots with AstraZeneca, Sanofi, and University […]

Fixing the reproducibility crisis: Openness, Increasing sample size, and Preregistration ARE NOT ENUF!!!!

In a generally reasonable and thoughtful post, “Yes, Your Field Does Need to Worry About Replicability,” Rich Lucas writes: One of the most exciting things to happen during the years-long debate about the replicability of psychological research is the shift in focus from providing evidence that there is a problem to developing concrete plans for […]

“Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age”

Our longtime collaborator Matt Salganik sent me a copy of his new textbook, “Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age.” I really like the division into Observing Behavior, Asking Questions, Running Experiments, and Mass Collaboration (I’d remove the word “Creating” from the title of that section). It seemed awkward for Ethics to be […]

It’s all about Hurricane Andrew: Do patterns in post-disaster donations demonstrate egotism?

Jim Windle points to this post discussing a paper by Jesse Chandler, Tiffany M. Griffin, and Nicholas Sorensen, “In the ‘I’ of the Storm: Shared Initials Increase Disaster Donations.” I took a quick look and didn’t notice anything clearly wrong with the paper, but there did seem to be some opportunities for forking paths, in […]