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“However noble the goal, research findings should be reported accurately. Distortion of results often occurs not in the data presented but . . . in the abstract, discussion, secondary literature and press releases. Such distortion can lead to unsupported beliefs about what works for obesity treatment and prevention. Such unsupported beliefs may in turn adversely affect future research efforts and the decisions of lawmakers, clinicians and public health leaders.”

David Allison points us to this article by Bryan McComb, Alexis Frazier-Wood, John Dawson, and himself, “Drawing conclusions from within-group comparisons and selected subsets of data leads to unsubstantiated conclusions.” It’s a letter to the editor for the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, and it begins: [In the paper, “School-based systems change […]

“Each computer run would last 1,000-2,000 hours, and, because we didn’t really trust a program that ran so long, we ran it twice, and it verified that the results matched. I’m not sure I ever was present when a run finished.”

Bill Harris writes: Skimming Michael Betancourt’s history of MCMC [discussed yesterday in this space] made me think: my first computer job was as a nighttime computer operator on the old Rice (R1) Computer, where I was one of several students who ran Monte Carlo programs written by (the very good) chemistry prof Dr. Zevi Salsburg […]

Robo-lobbyists

Ethan Bolker points to this news item and writes: A couple more clicks after that, and we’re looking at a summarized version of a bill tackling cybersecurity that the software has considered and rendered a judgment on, when it comes to the probability that it will become law. We’re not talking a rough estimate. There’s […]

How does probabilistic computation differ in physics and statistics?

[image of Schrodinger’s cat, of course] Stan collaborator Michael Betancourt wrote an article, “The Convergence of Markov chain Monte Carlo Methods: From the Metropolis method to Hamiltonian Monte Carlo,” discussing how various ideas of computational probability moved from physics to statistics. Three things I wanted to add to Betancourt’s story: 1. My paper with Rubin […]

StanCon is next week, Jan 10-12, 2018

It looks pretty cool! Wednesday, Jan 10 Invited Talk: Predictive information criteria in hierarchical Bayesian models for clustered data. Sophia Rabe-Hesketh and Daniel Furr (U California, Berkely) 10:40-11:30am Does the New York City Police Department rely on quotas? Jonathan Auerbach (Columbia U) 11:30-11:50am Bayesian estimation of mechanical elastic constants. Ben Bales, Brent Goodlet, Tresa Pollock, […]

How is science like the military? They are politically extreme yet vital to the nation

I was thinking recently about two subcultures in the United States, public or quasi-public institutions that are central to our country’s power, and which politically and socially are distant both from each other and from much of the mainstream of American society. The two institutions I’m thinking of are science and the military, both of […]

Stopping rules and Bayesian analysis

This is an old one but i think there still may be interest in the topic. In this post, I explain how to think about stopping rules in Bayesian inference and why, from a Bayesian standpoint, it’s not cheating to run an experiment until you get statistical significance and then stop. If the topic interests […]

I’m with Errol: On flypaper, photography, science, and storytelling

[image of a cat going after an insect] I’ve been reading this amazing book, Believing is Seeing: Observations on the Mysteries of Photography, by Errol Morris, who, like John Waters, is a pathbreaking filmmaker who is also an excellent writer. I recommend this book, but what I want to talk about here is one particular […]

On deck through the first half of 2018

Here’s what we got scheduled for ya: I’m with Errol: On flypaper, photography, science, and storytelling Politically extreme yet vital to the nation healthy kids? A coding problem in the classic study, Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion A model for scientific research programmes that include both “exploratory phenomenon-driven research” and “theory-testing science” Anthony West’s […]

Some of our work from the past year

Our published papers are listed here in approximate reverse chronological order (including some unexpected items such as a review of a book on international relations), and our unpublished papers are here. (Many but not all of the unpublished papers will eventually end up in the “published” category.) No new books this year except for the […]

Your (Canadian) tax dollars at work

Retraction Watch links to this amazing (in a bad way) article by “The International Consortium of Investigators for Fairness in Trial Data Sharing” who propose that “study investigators be allowed exclusive use of the data for a minimum of 2 years after publication of the primary trial results and an additional 6 months for every […]

Learning from and responding to statistical criticism

In 1960, Irwin Bross, “a public-health advocate and biostatistician . . . known for challenging scientific dogmas” published an article called “Statistical Criticism.” Here it is. A few months ago, Dylan Small, editor of the journal Observational Studies, invited various people including me to write a comment on Bross’s article. Here’s what I wrote: Irwin […]

Scammed by spammers

I received an unsolicited email awhile ago claiming to come from some company, but I went back to it and looked more carefully and realized the links were all to some SEO scam. I’d unfairly criticized this company for spamming me, and it was rally some third party spammer that had been spoofing that company. […]

Forking paths plus lack of theory = No reason to believe any of this.

[image of a cat with a fork] Kevin Lewis points us to this paper which begins: We use a regression discontinuity design to estimate the causal effect of election to political office on natural lifespan. In contrast to previous findings of shortened lifespan among US presidents and other heads of state, we find that US […]

“Handling Multiplicity in Neuroimaging through Bayesian Lenses with Hierarchical Modeling”

Donald Williams points us to this new paper by Gang Chen, Yaqiong Xiao, Paul Taylor, Tracy Riggins, Fengji Geng, Elizabeth Redcay, and Robert Cox: In neuroimaging, the multiplicity issue may sneak into data analysis through several channels . . . One widely recognized aspect of multiplicity, multiple testing, occurs when the investigator fits a separate […]

Stupid-ass statisticians don’t know what a goddam confidence interval is

From page 20 in a well-known applied statistics textbook: The hypothesis of whether a parameter is positive is directly assessed via its confidence interval. If both ends of the 95% confidence interval exceed zero, then we are at least 95% sure (under the assumptions of the model) that the parameter is positive. Huh? Who says […]

A debate about robust standard errors: Perspective from an outsider

A colleague pointed me to a debate among some political science methodologists about robust standard errors, and I told him that the topic didn’t really interest me because I haven’t found a use for robust standard errors in my own work. My colleague urged me to look at the debate more carefully, though, so I […]

The failure of null hypothesis significance testing when studying incremental changes, and what to do about it

A few months ago I wrote a post, “Cage match: Null-hypothesis-significance-testing meets incrementalism. Nobody comes out alive.” I soon after turned it into an article, published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, with the title given above and the following abstract: A standard mode of inference in social and behavioral science is to establish stylized […]

It’s . . . spam-tastic!

We’ll celebrate Christmas today with a scam that almost fooled me. OK, not quite: I was about two steps from getting caught. Here’s the email: Dear Dr. Gelman, I hope you do not mind me emailing you directly, I thought it would be the easiest way to make first contact. If you have time for […]

Walk a Crooked MiIe

An academic researcher writes: I was wondering if you might have any insight or thoughts about a problem that has really been bothering me. I have taken a winding way through academia, and I am seriously considering a career shift that would allow me to do work that more directly translates to societal good and […]