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Archive of posts filed under the Literature category.

Storytelling as predictive model checking

I finally got around to reading Adam Begley’s biography of John Updike, and it was excellent. I’ll have more on that in a future post, but for now I just went to share the point, which I’d not known before, that almost all of Updike’s characters and even the descriptions and events in many of […]

I’m thinking of using these at the titles for my next 97 blog posts

Where do you think these actually came from? (No googling—that would be cheating.) P.S. Anyone who wants to know the answer can google it. But there were some great guesses in the comments. My favorite, from Frank: I’ve got to go with “before the colon” in questionable social science papers, e.g: “Don’t make me laugh: […]

When do stories work, Process tracing, and Connections between qualitative and quantitative research

Jonathan Stray writes: I read your “when do stories work” paper (with Thomas Basbøll) with interest—as a journalist stories are of course central to my field. I wondered if you had encountered the “process tracing” literature in political science? It attempts to make sense of stories as “case studies” and there’s a nice logic 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 […]

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 […]

Christmas special: Survey research, network sampling, and Charles Dickens’ coincidences

It’s Christmas so what better time to write about Charles Dickens . . . Here’s the story: In traditional survey research we have been spoiled. If you work with atomistic data structures, a small sample looks like a little bit of the population. But a small sample of a network doesn’t look like the whole. […]

How to include formulas (LaTeX) and code blocks in WordPress posts and replies

It’s possible to include LaTeX formulas like . I entered it as $latex \int e^x \, \mathrm{d}x$. You can also generate code blocks like this for (n in 1:N) y[n] ~ normal(0, 1); The way to format them is to use <pre> to open the code block and </pre> to close it. You can create […]

Unfinished (so far) draft blog posts

Most of the time when I start writing a blog post, I continue till its finished. As of this writing this blog has 7128 posts published, 137 scheduled, and only 434 unpublished drafts sitting in the folder. 434 might sound like a lot, but we’ve been blogging for over 10 years, and a bunch of […]

Spin

Yesterday all the past. The language of effect size Spreading to Psychology along the sub-fields; the diffusion Of the counting-frame and the quincunx; Yesterday the shadow-reckoning in the ivy climates. Yesterday the assessment of hypotheses by tests, The divination of water; yesterday the invention Of cartwheels and clocks, the power-pose of Horses. Yesterday the bustling […]

Some people are so easy to contact and some people aren’t.

I was reading Cowboys Full, James McManus’s entertaining history of poker (but way too much on the so-called World Series of Poker), and I skimmed the index to look up some of my favorite poker writers. Frank Wallace and David Spanier were both there but only got brief mentions in the text, I was disappointed […]

“The Prose Factory: Literary Life in England Since 1918” and “The Windsor Faction”

It’s been D. J. Taylor week here. I expect that something like 0% of you (rounding to the nearest percentage point) have heard of D. J. Taylor, and that’s ok. He’s an English literary critic. Several years ago I picked up a copy of his book, A Vain Conceit: British Fiction in the 1980s, and […]

Genius is not enough: The sad story of Peter Hagelstein, living monument to the sunk-cost fallacy

I sometimes pick up various old collections that will be suitable for bathroom reading, and so it was that the other day I was sitting on the throne reading the summer 1985 issue of Granta, entitled Science. Lots of great stuff here, including Oliver Sacks on Tourette’s syndrome, Thomas McMahan on Alexander Graham Bell, and […]

The new quantitative journalism

The first of the breed was Bill James. But now we have a bunch: Felix Salmon, Nate Silver, Amanda Cox, Carl Bialik, . . . . I put them in a different category than traditional science journalists such as Malcolm Gladwell, Gina Kolata, Stephen Dubner who are invested in the “scientist as hero” story, or […]

Letters we never finished reading

I got a book in the mail attached to some publicity material that began: Over the last several years, a different kind of science book has found a home on consumer bookshelves. Anchored by meticulous research and impeccable credentials, these books bring hard science to bear on the daily lives of the lay reader; their […]

How an academic urban legend can spread because of the difficulty of clear citation

Allan Dafoe writes: I just came across this article about academic urban legends spreading because of sloppy citation practices. I found it fascinating and relevant to the conversations on your blog. The article is by Ole Bjørn Rekdal and it is indeed fascinating. It begins as follows: Many of the messages presented in respectable scientific […]

“Stop the Polling Insanity”

Norman Ornstein and Alan Abramowitz warn against over-interpreting poll fluctuations: In this highly charged election, it’s no surprise that the news media see every poll like an addict sees a new fix. That is especially true of polls that show large and unexpected changes. Those polls get intense coverage and analysis, adding to their presumed […]

Macassar

Some of the discussion of yesterday’s post reminded me of a wonderful bit from Life on the Mississippi: When I was a boy, there was but one permanent ambition among my comrades in our village on the west bank of the Mississippi River. That was, to be a steamboatman. We had transient ambitions of other […]

Are you pro or anti-biotics?

Paul Alper points to this news article by Susan Perry: Probiotics have been overhyped and rely on ‘shaky’ science, reporter finds Although some of these studies’ results may be promising, they aren’t strong enough to support the long list of claims currently being made by the manufacturers of probiotic products. . . . Perry links […]

Some folks like to get away, take a holiday from the neighborhood

Saw a couple of plays, both excellent. Fun Home. Compared to what I remembered of the book (which I also thought was excellent), the play seemed to be more about her family and less about Bechdel herself. But that worked for me. Bechdel’s story won’t be shared by everybody, but we all have families. The […]

These Twin Names Match, But Aren’t “Matchy-Matchy”

I love this stuff: Alice/Celia: This subtle anagram yields two charming classics with completely different sounds. Beckett/Marlowe: Two playwrights representing two of the hottest contemporary name styles, double-t names and hidden-o names. Zoe/Eve: These Greek and Hebrew “life” names look similar on paper, but not spoken aloud. Rima/Amir : These mirror-image Arabic name make a […]