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The Lure of Luxury

From the sister blog, a response to an article by psychologist Paul Bloom on why people own things they don’t really need: Paul Bloom argues that humans dig deep, look beyond the surface, and attend to the nonobvious in ways that add to our pleasure and appreciation of the world of objects. I [Susan] wholly […]

We fiddle while Rome burns: p-value edition

Raghu Parthasarathy presents a wonderfully clear example of disastrous p-value-based reasoning that he saw in a conference presentation. Here’s Raghu: Consider, for example, some tumorous cells that we can treat with drugs 1 and 2, either alone or in combination. We can make measurements of growth under our various drug treatment conditions. Suppose our measurements […]

“Which curve fitting model should I use?”

Oswaldo Melo writes: I have learned many of curve fitting models in the past, including their technical and mathematical details. Now I have been working on real-world problems and I face a great shortcoming: which method to use. As an example, I have to predict the demand of a product. I have a time series […]

Nooooooo, just make it stop, please!

Dan Kahan wrote: You should do a blog on this. I replied: I don’t like this article but I don’t really see the point in blogging on it. Why bother? Kahan: BECAUSE YOU REALLY NEVER HAVE EXPLAINED WHY. Gelman-Rubin criticque of BIC is *not* responsive; you have something in mind—tell us what, pls! Inquiring minds […]

When you add a predictor the model changes so it makes sense that the coefficients change too.

Shane Littrell writes: I’ve recently graduated with my Masters in Science in Research Psych but I’m currently trying to get better at my stats knowledge (in psychology, we tend to learn a dumbed down, “Stats for Dummies” version of things). I’ve been reading about “suppressor effects” in regression recently and it got me curious about […]

Field Experiments and Their Critics

Seven years ago I was contacted by Dawn Teele, who was then a graduate student and is now a professor of political science, and asked for my comments on an edited book she was preparing on social science experiments and their critics. I responded as follows: This is a great idea for a project. My […]

About that claim in the Monkey Cage that North Korea had “moderate” electoral integrity . . .

Yesterday I wrote about problems with the Electoral Integrity Project, a set of expert surveys that are intended to “evaluate the state of the world’s elections” but have some problems, notably rating more than half of the U.S. states in 2016 as having lower integrity than Cuba (!) and North Korea (!!!) in 2014. I […]

Fragility index is too fragile

Simon Gates writes: Where is an issue that has had a lot of publicity and Twittering in the clinical trials world recently. Many people are promoting the use of the “fragility index” (paper attached) to help interpretation of “significant” results from clinical trials. The idea is that it gives a measure of how robust the […]

“Constructing expert indices measuring electoral integrity” — reply from Pippa Norris

This morning I posted a criticism of the Electoral Integrity Project, a survey organized by Pippa Norris and others to assess elections around the world. Norris sent me a long response which I am posting below as is. I also invited Andrew Reynolds, the author of the controversial op-ed, to contribute to the discussion. Here’s […]

About that bogus claim that North Carolina is no longer a democracy . . .

Nick Stevenson directed me to a recent op-ed in the Raleigh News & Observer, where political science professor Andrew Reynolds wrote: In 2005, in the midst of a career of traveling around the world to help set up elections in some of the most challenging places on earth . . . my Danish colleague, Jorgen […]

Migration explaining observed changes in mortality rate in different geographic areas?

We know that the much-discussed increase in mortality among middle-aged U.S. whites is mostly happening among women in the south. In response to some of that discussion, Tim Worstall wrote: I [Worstall] have a speculative answer. It is absolutely speculative: but it is also checkable to some extent. Really, I’m channelling my usual critique of […]

Comment of the year

In our discussion of research on the possible health benefits of a low-oxygen environment, Raghu wrote: This whole idea (low oxygen -> lower cancer risk) seems like a very straightforward thing to test in animals, which one can move to high and low oxygen environments . . . And then Llewelyn came in for the […]

Transformative treatments

Kieran Healy and Laurie Paul wrote a new article, “Transformative Treatments,” (see also here) which reminds me a bit of my article with Guido, “Why ask why? Forward causal inference and reverse causal questions.” Healy and Paul’s article begins: Contemporary social-scientific research seeks to identify specific causal mechanisms for outcomes of theoretical interest. Experiments that […]

“Kevin Lewis and Paul Alper send me so much material, I think they need their own blogs.”

In my previous post, I wrote: Kevin Lewis and Paul Alper send me so much material, I think they need their own blogs. It turns out that Lewis does have his own blog. His latest entry contains a bunch of links, starting with this one: Populism and the Return of the “Paranoid Style”: Some Evidence […]

Two unrelated topics in one post: (1) Teaching useful algebra classes, and (2) doing more careful psychological measurements

Kevin Lewis and Paul Alper send me so much material, I think they need their own blogs. In the meantime, I keep posting the stuff they send me, as part of my desperate effort to empty my inbox. 1. From Lewis: “Should Students Assessed as Needing Remedial Mathematics Take College-Level Quantitative Courses Instead? A Randomized […]

“The Pitfall of Experimenting on the Web: How Unattended Selective Attrition Leads to Surprising (Yet False) Research Conclusions”

Kevin Lewis points us to this paper by Haotian Zhou and Ayelet Fishbach, which begins: The authors find that experimental studies using online samples (e.g., MTurk) often violate the assumption of random assignment, because participant attrition—quitting a study before completing it and getting paid—is not only prevalent, but also varies systemically across experimental conditions. Using […]

“I thought it would be most unfortunate if a lab . . . wasted time and effort trying to replicate our results.”

Mark Palko points us to this news article by George Dvorsky: A Harvard research team led by biologist Douglas Melton has retracted a promising research paper following multiple failed attempts to reproduce the original findings. . . . In June 2016, the authors published an article in the open access journal PLOS One stating that […]

Sorry, but no, you can’t learn causality by looking at the third moment of regression residuals

Under the subject line “Legit?”, Kevin Lewis pointed me to this press release, “New statistical approach will help researchers better determine cause-effect.” I responded, “No link to any of the research papers, so cannot evaluate.” In writing this post I thought I’d go further. The press release mentions 6 published articles so I googled the […]

Ethics and statistics

For a few years now, I’ve been writing a column in Chance. Below are the articles so far. This is by no means an exhaustive list of my writings on ethics and statistics but at least I thought it could help to collect these columns in one place. Ethics and statistics: Open data and open […]

Objects of the class “George Orwell”

George Orwell is an exemplar in so many ways: a famed truth-teller who made things up, a left-winger who mocked left-wingers, an author of a much-misunderstood novel (see “Objects of the class ‘Sherlock Holmes,’”) probably a few dozen more. But here I’m talking about Orwell’s name being used as an adjective. More specifically, “Orwellian” being […]