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Archive of posts filed under the Economics category.

“Data sleaze: Uber and beyond”

Interesting discussion from Kaiser Fung. I don’t have anything to add here; it’s just a good statistics topic. Scroll through Kaiser’s blog for more: Dispute over analysis of school quality and home prices shows social science is hard My pre-existing United boycott, and some musing on randomness and fairness etc.

Drug-funded profs push drugs

Someone who wishes to remain anonymous writes: I just read a long ProPublica article that I think your blog commenters might be interested in. It’s from February, but was linked to by the Mad Biologist today (https://mikethemadbiologist.com/). Here is a link to the article: https://www.propublica.org/article/big-pharma-quietly-enlists-leading-professors-to-justify-1000-per-day-drugs In short, it’s about a group of professors (mainly economists) […]

Journals for insignificant results

Tom Daula writes: I know you’re not a fan of hypothesis testing, but the journals in this blog post are an interesting approach to the file drawer problem. I’ve never heard of them or their like. An alternative take (given academia standard practice) is “Journal for XYZ Discipline papers that p-hacking and forking paths could […]

Reputational incentives and post-publication review: two (partial) solutions to the misinformation problem

So. There are erroneous analyses published in scientific journals and in the news. Here I’m not talking not about outright propaganda, but about mistakes that happen to coincide with the preconceptions of their authors. We’ve seen lots of examples. Here are just a few: – Political scientist Larry Bartels is committed to a model of […]

Gilovich doubles down on hot hand denial

A correspondent pointed me to this Freaknomics radio interview with Thomas Gilovich, one of the authors of that famous “hot hand” paper from 1985, “Misperception of Chance Processes in Basketball.” Here’s the key bit from the Freakonomics interview: DUBNER: Right. The “hot-hand notion” or maybe the “hot-hand fallacy.” GILOVICH: Well, everyone who’s ever played the […]

Let’s accept the idea that treatment effects vary—not as something special but just as a matter of course

Tyler Cowen writes: Does knowing the price lower your enjoyment of goods and services? I [Cowen] don’t quite agree with this as stated, as the experience of enjoying a bargain can make it more pleasurable, or at least I have seen this for many people. Some in fact enjoy the bargain only, not the actual […]

Hey, we’re hiring a postdoc! To work on survey weighting! And imputation!

Here’s the ad: The Center on Poverty and Social Policy at the Columbia University School of Social Work and the Columbia Population Research Center are seeking a postdoctoral scholar with a PhD in economics, statistics, public policy, demography, social work, sociology, or a related discipline, to lead the development of survey weights and missing data imputations for the New York City […]

2 questions about HUD eligibility rules for federal housing programs

Daniel McCracken writes: At work, I came across a potentially serious flaw in how HUD uses statistics to determine eligibility for federal housing programs (and the amount of subsidy each household receives). It seemed like something you might be interested in or blog about, so I figured I’d pass it along. For background, here’s the […]

Checkmate

Sandro Ambuehl writes: As an avid reader of your blog, I thought you might like (to hate) the attached PNAS paper with the following findings: (i) sending two flyers about the importance of STEM fields to the parents of 81 kids improves ACT scores by 12 percentile points (intent-to-treat effect… a bit large, perhaps?) and […]

Facebook’s Prophet uses Stan

Sean Taylor, a research scientist at Facebook and Stan user, writes: I wanted to tell you about an open source forecasting package we just released called Prophet:  I thought the readers of your blog might be interested in both the package and the fact that we built it on top of Stan. Under the hood, […]

Is Rigor Contagious? (my talk next Monday 4:15pm at Columbia)

Is Rigor Contagious? Much of the theory and practice of statistics and econometrics is characterized by a toxic mixture of rigor and sloppiness. Methods are justified based on seemingly pure principles that can’t survive reality. Examples of these principles include random sampling, unbiased estimation, hypothesis testing, Bayesian inference, and causal identification. Examples of uncomfortable reality […]

Division of labor and a Pizzagate solution

I firmly believe that the general principles of social science can improve our understanding of the world. Today I want to talk about two principles—division of labor from economics, and roles from sociology—and their relevance to the Pizzagate scandal involving Brian Wansink, the Cornell University business school professor and self-described “world-renowned eating behavior expert for […]

Clay pigeon

Sam Harper writes: Not that you are collecting these kinds of things, but I wanted to point to (yet) another benefit of the American Economic Association’s requirement of including replication datasets (unless there are confidentiality constraints) and code in order to publish in most of their journals—certainly for the top-tier ones like Am Econ Review: […]

Looking for rigor in all the wrong places (my talk this Thursday in the Columbia economics department)

Looking for Rigor in All the Wrong Places What do the following ideas and practices have in common: unbiased estimation, statistical significance, insistence on random sampling, and avoidance of prior information? All have been embraced as ways of enforcing rigor but all have backfired and led to sloppy analyses and erroneous inferences. We discuss these […]

“Luckily, medicine is a practice that ignores the requirements of science in favor of patient care.”

Javier Benitez writes: This is a paragraph from Kathryn Montgomery’s book, How Doctors Think: If medicine were practiced as if it were a science, even a probabilistic science, my daughter’s breast cancer might never have been diagnosed in time. At 28, she was quite literally off the charts, far too young, an unlikely patient who […]

Cry of Alarm

Stan Liebowitz writes: Is it possible to respond to a paper that you are not allowed to discuss? The question above relates to some unusual behavior from a journal editor. As background, I [Liebowitz] have been engaged in a long running dispute regarding the analysis contained in an influential paper published in one of the […]

Identifying Neighborhood Effects

Dionissi Aliprantis writes: I have just published a paper (online here) on what we can learn about neighborhood effects from the results of the Moving to Opportunity housing mobility experiment. I wanted to suggest the paper (and/or the experiment more broadly) as a topic for your blog, as I am hoping the paper can start […]

The “What does not kill my statistical significance makes it stronger” fallacy

As anyone who’s designed a study and gathered data can tell you, getting statistical significance is difficult. Lots of our best ideas don’t pan out, and even if a hypothesis seems to be supported by the data, the magic “p less than .05” can be elusive. And we also know that noisy data and small […]

Research connects overpublication during national sporting events to science-journalism problems

Ivan Oransky pointed me to a delightful science-based press release, “One’s ability to make money develops before birth”: Researchers from the Higher School of Economics have shown how the level of perinatal testosterone, the sex hormone, impacts a person’s earnings in life. Prior research confirms that many skills and successes are linked to the widely […]

When do protests affect policy?

Gur Huberman writes that he’s been wondering for many years about this question: One function of protests is to vent out the protesters’ emotions. When do protests affect policy? In dictatorships there are clear examples of protests affecting reality, e.g., in Eastern Europe in 1989. It’s harder to find such clear examples in democracies. And […]