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Archive of posts filed under the Decision Theory category.

Lottery is evil

Paul Alper sends in this news article by Ryan Foley: The former security chief for a national group that operates state lotteries personally bought two prize-winning tickets in Kansas worth $44,000, investigators said Monday, bringing to five the number of states where he may have fixed games to enrich himself and associates. Investigators recently linked […]

On deck this week

Mon: What is a Republican? Tues: “Bayesians (quite rightly so according to the theory) . . .” Wed: Lottery is evil Thurs: Gresham’s Law of experimental methods Fri: In the biggest advance in applied mathematics since the most recent theorem that Stephen Wolfram paid for . . . Sat: Himmicanes and hurricanes update Sun: What […]

He does mathematical modeling and is asking for career advice: wants to move from biology to social science

Rick Desper writes: I face some tough career choices. I have a background in mathematical modeling (got my Ph.D. in math from Rutgers back in the late ’90s) and spent several years working in the field of bioinformatics/computational biology (its name varies from place to place). I’ve worked on problems in modeling cancer progression and […]

In defense of endless arguments

A couple months ago (that is, yesterday; remember our 2-month delay) some commenters expressed exhaustion and irritation at the Kahneman-Gigerenzer catfight, or more generally the endless debate between those who emphasize irrationality in human decision making and those who emphasize the adaptive and functional qualities of our shortcuts. I would like to respond to this […]

Noise noise noise noise noise

An intersting issue came up in comments to yesterday’s post. The story began with this query from David Shor: Suppose you’re conducting an experiment on the effectiveness of a pain medication, but in the post survey, measure a large number of indicators of well being (Sleep quality, self reported pain, ability to get tasks done, […]

On deck this week

Happy spring! Mon: Noise noise noise noise noise Tues: Thinking about this beautiful text sentiment visualizer yields a surprising insight about statistical graphics Wed: In defense of endless arguments Thurs: Multilevel regression Fri: Data-dependent priors as an approximation to hierarchical priors Sat: Objects of the class “Pauline Kael” Sun: What is a Republican?

Swimsuit special: “A pure Bayesian or pure non-Bayesian is not forever doomed to use out-of-date methods, but at any given time the purist will be missing some of the most effective current techniques.”

Joshua Vogelstein points me to this paper by Gerd Gigerenzer and Julian Marewski, who write: The idol of a universal method for scientific inference has been worshipped since the “inference revolution” of the 1950s. Because no such method has ever been found, surrogates have been created, most notably the quest for significant p values. This […]

How should statisticians and economists think about recreational gambling?

Recreational gambling is a lot like recreational drinking, in that it is pleasant, and it can be abused, and the very aspects that make it pleasant are related to what makes it so destructive when abused. Also, both industries make a lot of money, so there’s a continuing tug of war between those who sell […]

On deck this week

Mon: Recently in the sister blog Tues: How should statisticians and economists think about recreational gambling? Wed: Lack of free lunch again rears ugly head Thurs: Swimsuit special: “A pure Bayesian or pure non-Bayesian is not forever doomed to use out-of-date methods, but at any given time the purist will be missing some of the […]

“Why this gun control study might be too good to be true”

Jeff Lax points us to this news article by Carolyn Johnson discussing a research paper, “Firearm legislation and firearm mortality in the USA: a cross-sectional, state-level study,” by Bindu Kalesan, Matthew Mobily, Olivia Keiser, Jeffrey Fagan, and Sandro Galea, that just appeared in the medical journal The Lancet. Here are the findings from Kalesan et […]

The problems with p-values are not just with p-values: My comments on the recent ASA statement

The American Statistical Association just released a committee report on the use of p-values. I was one of the members of the committee but I did not write the report. We were also given the opportunity to add our comments. Here’s what I sent:

On deck this week

Mon: Smiley faces were never seen Tues: Bayesian inference for network links Wed: Some people are so easy to contact and some people aren’t. Thurs: Good advice can do you bad Fri: Statistics is like basketball, or knitting Sat: 0.05 is a joke Sun: The unbelievable reason that Jennifer Lawrence is using Waic and cross-validation […]

No, this post is not 30 days early: Psychological Science backs away from null hypothesis significance testing

A few people pointed me to this editorial by D. Stephen Lindsay, the new editor of Psychological Science, a journal that in recent years has been notorious for publishing (and, even more notoriously, promoting) click-bait unreplicable dead-on-arrival noise-mining tea-leaf-reading research papers. It was getting so bad for awhile that they’d be publishing multiple such studies […]

He’s looking for a textbook that explains Bayesian methods for non-parametric tests

Brandon Vaughan writes: I am in the market for a textbook that explains Bayesian methods for non-parametric tests. My experience with Bayesian statistics thus far comes from John Krushke’s Doing Bayesian Data Analysis, but this book excludes non-parametric statistics. I do see that your text, Bayesian Data Analysis 3e, covers non-parametric statistics, however, does it […]

Having trouble planning a replication? Here’s how the scientific publishing process gets in the way.

So, I decided to do a preregistered replication. Of one of my own projects. We made a four-step plan: (1) do a duplication, digging up our old code and our old data and checking that we could reproduce our published graphs; (2) clean our analysis in various ways and check that our results don’t change […]

On deck this week

Mon: Fitting the birthday model in Stan Tues: Having trouble planning a replication? Here’s how the scientific publishing process gets in the way. Wed: No, this post is not 30 days early: Psychological Science backs away from null hypothesis significance testing Thurs: At this point, even Tom Cruise is skeptical about claims of social priming. […]

Probability paradox may be killing thousands

Brian Kinghorn points to this news article by Christian Grothoff and J. M. Porup, “The NSA’s SKYNET program may be killing thousands of innocent people; ‘Ridiculously optimistic’ machine learning algorithm is ‘completely bullshit,’ says expert.” The article begins: In 2014, the former director of both the CIA and NSA proclaimed that “we kill people based […]

Fundamental difficulty of inference for a ratio when the denominator could be positive or negative

I happened to come across this post from 2011, which in turn is based on thoughts of mine from about 1993. It’s important and most of you probably haven’t seen it, so here it is again: Ratio estimates are common in statistics. In survey sampling, the ratio estimate is when you use y/x to estimate […]

On deck this week

We got some good stuff coming down the pike: Mon: Too big to fail: Why it’s unrealistic to expect erroneous scientific papers to be retracted Tues: An apology and a note on Stockholm Syndrome Wed: All that really important statistics stuff that isn’t in the statistics textbooks Thurs: Who falls for the education reform hype? […]

On deck this week

Mon: If Karl Popper edited the New York Times Tues: “What is Bayesian data analysis? Some examples”: My lecture at the New School this Wed noon Wed: You’ll never guess what David Cox wrote about the garden of forking paths! Thurs: Miller and Sanjurjo share 5 tips on how to hit the zeitgeist jackpot Fri: […]