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Let’s get hysterical

Following up on our discussion of hysteresis in the scientific community, Nick Brown points us to this article this article from 2014, “Excellence by Nonsense: The Competition for Publications in Modern Science,” by Mathias Binswanger, who writes: To ensure the efficient use of scarce funds, the government forces universities and professors, together with their academic […]

The fallacy of the excluded middle — statistical philosophy edition

I happened to come across this post from 2012 and noticed a point I’d like to share again. I was discussing an article by David Cox and Deborah Mayo, in which Cox wrote: [Bayesians’] conceptual theories are trying to do two entirely different things. One is trying to extract information from the data, while the […]

I think there may be some overlap in this Venn diagram.

Kevin Lewis pointed to a paper with the following bit: In both Experiment 1 (N = 180 gamblers) and Experiment 2 (N = 202 drinkers) . . .

No, I don’t think it’s the file drawer effect

Someone named Andrew Certain writes: I’ve been reading your blog since your appearance on Econtalk . . . explaining the ways in which statistics are misused/misinterpreted in low-sample/high-noise studies. . . . I recently came across a meta-analysis on stereotype threat [a reanalysis by Emil Kirkegaard] by that identified a clear relationship between smaller sample […]

Cool tennis-tracking app

Swupnil Sahai writes that he’s developed Swing, “the best app for tracking all of your tennis stats, and maybe we’ll expand to other sports in the future.” According to Swupnil, the app runs on Apple Watch making predictions in real time. I hope in the future they’ll incorporate some hierarchical modeling to deal with sparse-data […]

It should be ok to just publish the data.

Gur Huberman asked for my reaction to a recent manuscript, Are CEOs Different? Characteristics of Top Managers, by Steven Kaplan and Morten Sorensen. The paper begins: We use a dataset of over 2,600 executive assessments to study thirty individual characteristics of candidates for top executive positions – CEO, CFO, COO and others. We classify the […]

It was the weeds that bothered him.

Bill Jefferys points to this news article by Denise Grady. Bill noticed the following bit, “In male rats, the studies linked tumors in the heart to high exposure to radiation from the phones. But that problem did not occur in female rats, or any mice,” and asked: ​Forking paths, much? My reply: The summary of […]

How feminism has made me a better scientist

Feminism is not a branch of science. It is not a set of testable propositions about the observable world, nor is it any single research method. From my own perspective, feminism is a political movement associated with successes such as votes for women, setbacks such as the failed Equal Rights Amendment, and continuing struggles in […]

“Usefully skeptical science journalism”

Dean Eckles writes: I like this Wired piece on the challenges of learning about how technologies are affecting us and children. The journalist introducing a nice analogy (that he had in mind before talking with me — I’m briefly quoted) between the challenges in nutrition (and observational epidemiology more generally) and in studying “addictive” technologies. […]

Discussion of the value of a mathematical model for the dissemination of propaganda

A couple people pointed me to this article, “How to Beat Science and Influence People: Policy Makers and Propaganda in Epistemic Networks,” by James Weatherall, Cailin O’Connor, and Justin Bruner, also featured in this news article. Their paper begins: In their recent book Merchants of Doubt [New York:Bloomsbury 2010], Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway describe […]

Jeremy Freese was ahead of the curve

Here’s sociologist Jeremy Freese writing, back in 2008: Key findings in quantitative social science are often interaction effects in which the estimated “effect” of a continuous variable on an outcome for one group is found to differ from the estimated effect for another group. An example I use when teaching is that the relationship between […]

What’s gonna happen in the 2018 midterm elections?

Following up on yesterday’s post on party balancing, here’s a new article from Joe Bafumi, Bob Erikson, and Chris Wlezien giving their predictions for November: We forecast party control of the US House of Representatives after the 2018 midterm election. First, we model the expected national vote relying on available generic Congressional polls and the […]

Some thoughts after reading “Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup”

I just read the above-titled John Carreyrou book, and it’s as excellent as everyone says it is. I suppose it’s the mark of any compelling story that it will bring to mind other things you’ve been thinking about, and in this case I saw many connections between the story of Theranos—a company that raised billions […]

“Richard Jarecki, Doctor Who Conquered Roulette, Dies at 86”

[relevant video] Thanatos Savehn is right. This obituary, written by someone named “Daniel Slotnik” (!), is just awesome: Many gamblers see roulette as a game of pure chance — a wheel is spun, a ball is released and winners and losers are determined by luck. Richard Jarecki refused to believe it was that simple. He […]

What is “party balancing” and how does it explain midterm elections?

As is well known, presidential election outcomes are somewhat predictable based on economic performance. Votes for the U.S. Congress, are to a large part determined by party balancing. Right now, the Republicans control the executive branch, both houses of congress, and the judiciary, so it makes sense that voters are going to swing toward the […]

“The most important aspect of a statistical analysis is not what you do with the data, it’s what data you use” (survey adjustment edition)

Dean Eckles pointed me to this recent report by Andrew Mercer, Arnold Lau, and Courtney Kennedy of the Pew Research Center, titled, “For Weighting Online Opt-In Samples, What Matters Most? The right variables make a big difference for accuracy. Complex statistical methods, not so much.” I like most of what they write, but I think […]

Trapped in the spam folder? Here’s what to do.

[Somewhat-relevant image] It seems that some people’s comments are getting trapped in the spam filter. Here’s how things go. The blog software triages the comments: 1. Most legitimate comments are automatically approved. You write the comment and it shows up right away. 2. Some comments are flagged as potentially spam. About half of these are […]

Let’s be open about the evidence for the benefits of open science

A reader who wishes to remain anonymous writes: I would be curious to hear your thoughts on is motivated reasoning among open science advocates. In particular, I’ve noticed that papers arguing for open practices have seriously bad/nonexistent causal identification strategies. Examples: Kidwell et al. 2017, Badges to Acknowledge Open Practices: A Simple, Low-Cost, Effective Method […]

Response to Rafa: Why I don’t think ROC [receiver operating characteristic] works as a model for science

Someone pointed me to this post from a few years ago where Rafael Irizarry argues that scientific “pessimists” such as myself are, at least in some fields, “missing a critical point: that in practice, there is an inverse relationship between increasing rates of true discoveries and decreasing rates of false discoveries and that true discoveries […]

Don’t call it a bandit

Here’s why I don’t like the term “multi-armed bandit” to describe the exploration-exploitation tradeoff of inference and decision analysis. First, and less importantly, each slot machine (or “bandit”) only has one arm. Hence it’s many one-armed bandits, not one multi-armed bandit. Second, the basic strategy in these problems is to play on lots of machines […]