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Archive of posts filed under the Decision Theory category.

“iPredict to close after Govt refuses anti-money laundering law exemption”

Richard Barker points us to an update on ipredict, the New Zealand political prediction market. From the news article by Hamish Rutherford: The site, run by Victoria University of Wellington’s commercialisation arm, VicLink, issued a statement to its website and on Twitter on Thursday. According to the iPredict statement, Associate Justice Minister Simon Bridges refused […]

Tip o’ the iceberg to ya

Paul Alper writes: The Washington Post ran this article by Fred Barbas with an interesting quotation: “Every day, on average, a scientific paper is retracted because of misconduct,” Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus, who run Retraction Watch, wrote in a New York Times op-ed in May. But, can that possibly be true, just for misconduct […]

Just Filling in the Bubbles

Collin Hitt writes: I study wrong answers, per your blog post today. My research focuses mostly on surveys of schoolchildren. I study the kids who appear to be just filling in the bubbles, who by accident actually reveal something of use for education researchers. Here’s his most recent paper, “Just Filling in the Bubbles: Using […]

Taleb’s Precautionary Principle: Should we be scared of GMOs?

Skyler Johnson writes: I was wondering if you could (or had already) weigh(ed) in on Nassim Taleb’s Precautionary Principle as it applies to GMOs? I’ve attached his working paper with Rupert Read, Raphael Douady, Joseph Norman and,Yaneer Bar-Yam. It can also be found at his site, See also his response to a critique from […]

“Using prediction markets to estimate the reproducibility of scientific research”

A reporter sent me this new paper by Anna Dreber, Thomas Pfeiffer, Johan Almenberg, Siri Isaksson, Brad Wilson, Yiling Chen, Brian Nosek, and Magnus Johannesson, which begins: Concerns about a lack of reproducibility of statistically significant results have recently been raised in many fields, and it has been argued that this lack comes at substantial […]

Why Retraction Watch remains necessary

A few months ago Psych Science issued a press release, “Blue and Seeing Blue: Sadness May Impair Color Perception,” promoting a fatally flawed paper that appeared in their journal. I heard about this paper from Nick Brown, and we slammed it on the blog. As I wrote at the time, I have nothing against the […]

On deck this week

Mon: Stop screaming already: Exaggeration of effects of fan distraction in NCAA basketball Tues: My job here is done Wed: The tabloids strike again Thurs: Econometrics: Instrument locally, extrapolate globally Fri: I wish Napoleon Bonaparte had never been born Sat: This is a workshop you can’t miss: DataMeetsViz Sun: You won’t believe these stunning transformations: […]

On deck this week

Lotsa hoops this week: Mon: Don’t miss this one: “Modern Physics from an Elementary Point of View” Tues: Super-topical NBA post!!! Wed: Hi-tech hoops: Characterizing the spatial structure of defensive skill in professional basketball Thurs: You won’t be able to stop staring at this original Hot Hand preprint Fri: Stop screaming already: Exaggeration of effects […]

Meet the 1 doctor in America who has no opinion on whether cigarette smoking contributes to lung cancer in human beings.

Paul Alper writes: In your blog today you once again criticize Tol’s putative results regarding global warming: “At no point did Tol apologize or thank the people who pointed out his errors; instead he lashed out, over and over again. Irresponsible indeed.” Well, here is something far more irresponsible and depressing. Read Susan Perry: Why […]

3 reasons why you can’t always use predictive performance to choose among models

A couple years ago Wei and I published a paper, Difficulty of selecting among multilevel models using predictive accuracy, in which we . . . well, we discussed the difficulty of selecting among multilevel models using predictive accuracy. The paper happened as follows. We’d been fitting hierarchical logistic regressions of poll data and I had […]

3 postdoc opportunities you can’t miss—here in our group at Columbia! Apply NOW, don’t miss out!

Hey, just once, the Buzzfeed-style hype is appropriate. We have 3 amazing postdoc opportunities here, and you need to apply NOW. Here’s the deal: we’re working on some amazing projects. You know about Stan and associated exciting projects in computational statistics. There’s the virtual database query, which is the way I like to describe our […]

On deck this week

Mon: Mars Missions are a Scam Tues: What do you learn from p=.05? This example from Carl Morris will blow your mind. Wed: Here’s a theoretical research project for you Thurs: In that article, they forgot to mention that Ludmerer is one of the 5 doctors in America who has no opinion on whether cigarette […]

On deck this week

Mon: Cognitive skills rising and falling Tues: Anti-cheating robots Wed: Mindset interventions are a scalable treatment for academic underachievement — or not? Thurs: Most successful blog post ever Fri: Political advertising update Sat: Doomed to fail: A pre-registration site for parapsychology Sun: Mars Missions are a Scam Also, don’t forget what’s on deck for the […]

Flamebait: “Mathiness” in economics and political science

Political scientist Brian Silver points me to his post by economist Paul Romer, who writes: The style that I [Romer] am calling mathiness lets academic politics masquerade as science. Like mathematical theory, mathiness uses a mixture of words and symbols, but instead of making tight links, it leaves ample room for slippage between statements in […]

How to use lasso etc. in political science?

Tom Swartz writes: I am a graduate student at Oxford with a background in economics and on the side am teaching myself more statistics and machine learning. I’ve been following your blog for some time and recently came across this post on lasso. In particular, the more I read about the machine learning community, the […]

On deck through the rest of 2015

There’s something for everyone! I had a lot of fun just copying the titles to make this list, as I’d already forgotten about a lot of this stuff. Here are the scheduled posts, in order through 31 Dec: Fitting models with discrete parameters in Stan How to use lasso etc. in political science? An unconvincing […]

Annals of Spam

OK, explain to me this email: God day, How are you? My name is **. I came across your contact email at the University of Cyprus, Department of Economics. I seek for a private Economics teacher for my Daughter. I would like to know if you would be available for job. If you would be […]

“I do not agree with the view that being convinced an effect is real relieves a researcher from statistically testing it.”

Florian Wickelmaier writes: I’m writing to tell you about my experiences with another instance of “the difference between significant and not significant.” In a lab course, I came across a paper by Costa et al. [Cognition 130 (2) (2014) 236-254 ( In several experiments, they compare the effects in two two-by-two tables by comparing the […]

Have weak data. But need to make decision. What to do?

Vlad Malik writes: I just re-read your article “Of Beauty, Sex and Power”. In my line of work (online analytics), low power is a recurring, existential problem. Do we act on this data or not? If not, why are we even in this business? That’s our daily struggle. Low power seems to create a sort […]

On deck this week

Mon: Have weak data. But need to make decision. What to do? Tues: “I do not agree with the view that being convinced an effect is real relieves a researcher from statistically testing it.” Wed: Optimistic or pessimistic priors Thurs: Draw your own graph! Fri: Low-power pose Sat: Annals of Spam Sun: The Final Bug, […]