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Archive of posts filed under the Miscellaneous Science category.

Theoretical Statistics is the Theory of Applied Statistics: How to Think About What We Do

Above is my talk at the 2017 New York R conference. Look, no slides! The talk went well. I think the video would be more appealing to listen to if they’d mixed in more of the crowd noise. Then you’d hear people laughing at all the right spots. P.S. Here’s my 2016 NYR talk, and […]

How is a politician different from a 4-year-old?

A few days ago I shared my reactions to an op-ed by developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik. Gopnik replied: As a regular reader of your blog, I thought you and your readers might be interested in a response to your very fair comments. In the original draft I had an extra few paragraphs (below) that speak […]

How to think scientifically about scientists’ proposals for fixing science

I wrote this article for a sociology journal: Science is in crisis. Any doubt about this status has surely been been dispelled by the loud assurances to the contrary by various authority figures who are deeply invested in the current system and have written things such as, “Psychology is not in crisis, contrary to popular […]

An obvious fact about constrained systems.

  This post is not by Andrew. This post is by Phil. This post is prompted by Andrew’s recent post about the book “Everything is obvious once you know the answer,” together with a recent discussion I’ve been involved in. I’m going to say something obvious. True story: earlier this year I was walking around […]


You gotta read this, including all the comments. It’s fascinating. (Link from Jkrideau.)

Honesty and transparency are not enough

[cat picture] From a recent article, Honesty and transparency are not enough: This point . . . is important for two reasons. First, consider the practical consequences for a researcher who eagerly accepts the message of ethical and practical values of sharing and openness, but does not learn about the importance of data quality. He […]

The statistical crisis in science: How is it relevant to clinical neuropsychology?

[cat picture] Hilde Geurts and I write: There is currently increased attention to the statistical (and replication) crisis in science. Biomedicine and social psychology have been at the heart of this crisis, but similar problems are evident in a wide range of fields. We discuss three examples of replication challenges from the field of social […]

Representists versus Propertyists: RabbitDucks – being good for what?

It is not that unusual in statistics to get the same statistical output (uncertainty interval, estimate, tail probability,etc.) for every sample, or some samples or the same distribution of outputs or the same expectations of outputs or just close enough expectations of outputs. Then, I would argue one has a variation on a DuckRabbit. In […]

Mmore from Ppnas

Kevin Lewis asks for my take on two new papers: Study 1: Honesty plays a key role in social and economic interactions and is crucial for societal functioning. However, breaches of honesty are pervasive and cause significant societal and economic problems that can affect entire nations. Despite its importance, remarkably little is known about the […]

Crack Shot

Raghu Parthasarathy writes: You might find this interesting, an article (and related essay) on the steadily declining percentage of NIH awards going to mid-career scientists and the steadily increasing percentage going to older researchers. The key figure is below. The part that may be of particular interest to you, since you’ve written about age-adjustment in demographic work: does […]

Applying statistics in science will likely remain unreasonably difficult in my life time: but I have no intention of changing careers.

This post is by Keith. image   (Image from There are a couple posts I have been struggling to put together, one is on what science is or should be (drawing on Charles Peirce). The other is on why a posterior is not a posterior is not a posterior: even if mathematically equivalent – they […]

How to interpret confidence intervals?

Jason Yamada-Hanff writes: I’m a Neuroscience PhD reforming my statistics education. I am a little confused about how you treat confidence intervals in the book and was hoping you could clear things up for me. Through your blog, I found Richard Morey’s paper (and further readings) about confidence interval interpretations. If I understand correctly, the […]

Ethics and the Replication Crisis and Science (my talk Tues 6pm)

I’ll be speaking on Ethics and the Replication Crisis and Science tomorrow (Tues 28 Feb) 6-7:30pm at room 411 Fayerweather Hall, Columbia University. I don’t plan to speak for 90 minutes; I assume there will be lots of time for discussion. Here’s the abstract that I whipped up: Busy scientists sometimes view ethics and philosophy […]

Unethical behavior vs. being a bad guy

[cat picture] I happened to come across this article and it reminded me of the general point that it’s possible to behave unethically without being a “bad guy.” The story in question involves some scientists who did some experiments about thirty years ago on the biological effects of low-frequency magnetic fields. They published their results […]

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

[cat picture] 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 […]

No guru, no method, no teacher, Just you and I and nature . . . in the garden. Of forking paths.

Here’s a quote: Instead of focusing on theory, the focus is on asking and answering practical research questions. It sounds eminently reasonable, yet in context I think it’s completely wrong. I will explain. But first some background. Junk science and statistics They say that hard cases make bad law. But bad research can make good […]

Historical critiques of psychology research methods

David Lockhart writes: I found these two papers – in of all places the presentation which Emil Kirkegaard and John Fuerst are presenting in London this weekend, which they claim is preventing them from responding to the can of worms they have opened by publishing a large, non-anonymized database of OKCupid dating profiles. This seems […]

Is the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex “selective for pain”?

Peter Clayson writes: I have spent much of the last 6 months or so of my life trying to learn Bayesian statistics on my own. It’s been a difficult, yet rewarding experience. I have a question about a research debate that is going on my field. Briefly, the debate between some very prominent scholars in […]

Alternatives to jail for scientific fraud

Mark Tuttle pointed me to this article by Amy Ellis Nutt, who writes: Since 2000, the number of U.S. academic fraud cases in science has risen dramatically. Five years ago, the journal Nature tallied the number of retractions in the previous decade and revealed they had shot up 10-fold. About half of the retractions were […]

A small, underpowered treasure trove?

Benjamin Kirkup writes: As you sometimes comment on such things; I’m forwarding you a journal editorial (in a society journal) that presents “lessons learned” from an associated research study. What caught my attention was the comment on the “notorious” design, the lack of “significant” results, and the “interesting data on nonsignificant associations.” Apparently, the work […]