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Archive of posts filed under the Miscellaneous Science category.

Why experimental economics might well be doing better than psychology when it comes to replication

There’s a new paper, “Evaluating replicability of laboratory experiments in economics,” by Colin Camerer, Anna Dreber, Eskil Forsell, Teck-Hua Ho, Jürgen Huber, Magnus Johannesson, Michael Kirchler, Johan Almenberg, Adam Altmejd, Taizan Chan, Emma Heikensten, Felix Holzmeister, Taisuke Imai, Siri Isaksson, Gideon Nave, Thomas Pfeiffer, Michael Razen, Hang Wu, which three different people sent to me, […]

Time-reversal heuristic as randomization, and p < .05 as conflict of interest declaration

Alex Gamma writes: Reading your blog recently has inspired two ideas which have in common that they analogize statistical concepts with non-statistical ones related to science: The time-reversal heuristic as randomization: Pushing your idea further leads to the notion of randomization of the sequence of study “reporting”. Studies are produced sequentially, but consumers of science […]

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 […]

“Replication initiatives will not salvage the trustworthiness of psychology”

So says James Coyne, going full Meehl. I agree. Replication is great, but if you replicate noise studies, you’ll just get noise, hence the beneficial effects on science are (a) to reduce confidence in silly studies that we mostly shouldn’t have taken seriously in the first place, and (b) to provide an disincentive for future […]

“Lots of hype around pea milk, with little actual scrutiny”

Paul Alper writes: Had no idea that “Pea Milk” existed, let alone controversial. Learn something new every day. Indeed, I’d never heard of it either. I guess “milk” is now a generic word for any white sugary drink? Sort of like “tea” is a generic word for any drink made from a powder steeped in […]

What’s the motivation to do experiments on motivation?

Bill Harris writes: Do you or your readers have any insights into the research that underlays Dan Pink’s work on motivation and Tom Wujec’s (or Peter Skillman’s) work on iterative development?  They make intuitive sense to me (but may be counterintuitive to others), but I don’t know much more about them. Pink’s work is summarized […]

Doing data science

Someone sent me this question: As a social and political science expert, you analyze data related to everything from public health and clinical research to college football. Considering how adaptable analytics expertise is, what kinds of careers available to one with this skillset? In which industries are data scientists and analysts in particularly demand? What […]

The Puzzle of Paul Meehl: An intellectual history of research criticism in psychology

There’s nothing wrong with Meehl. He’s great. The puzzle of Paul Meehl is that everything we’re saying now, all this stuff about the problems with Psychological Science and PPNAS and Ted talks and all that, Paul Meehl was saying 50 years ago. And it was no secret. So how is it that all this was […]

No Retractions, Only Corrections: A manifesto.

Under the heading, “Why that Evolution paper should never have been retracted: A reviewer speaks out,” biologist Ben Ashby writes: The problems of post-publication peer review have already been highlighted elsewhere, and it certainly isn’t rare for a paper to be retracted due to an honest mistake (although most retractions are due to misconduct). Moreover, […]

I owe it all to my Neanderthal genes

Yesterday I posted a methods-focused item at the Monkey Cage, a follow-up of a post from a couple years ago arguing against some dramatic claims by economists Ashraf and Galor regarding the wealth of nations. No big deal, just some standard-issue skepticism. But for some reason this one caught fire—maybe somebody important linked to it, […]

A new idea for a science core course based entirely on computer simulation

I happen to come across this post from 2011 that I like so much, I thought I’d say it again: Columbia College has for many years had a Core Curriculum, in which students read classics such as Plato (in translation) etc. A few years ago they created a Science core course. There was always some […]

“Cancer Research Is Broken”

Michael Oakes pointed me to this excellent news article by Daniel Engber, subtitled, “There’s a replication crisis in biomedicine—and no one even knows how deep it runs.” Engber suggests that the replication problem in biomedical research is worse than the much-publicized replication problem in psychology. One reason, which I didn’t see Engber discussing, is financial […]

Avoiding model selection in Bayesian social research

The other day I happened to come across this paper that I wrote with Don Rubin in 1995. I really like it—it’s so judicious and mature, I can’t believe I wrote it over 20 years ago! Let this be a lesson to all of you that it’s possible to get somewhere by reasoning from first […]

Why I don’t believe Fergus Simpson’s Big Alien Theory

It all began with this message from Christopher Bonnett: I’m a observational cosmologist and I am writing you as I think the following paper + article might be of interest for your blog. A fellow cosmologist, Fergus Simpson, has done a Bayesian analysis on the size of aliens, it has passed peer-review and has been […]

Should I be upset that the NYT credulously reviewed a book promoting iffy science?

I want to say “junk science,” but that’s not quite right. The claims in questions are iffy, far from proven, and could not be replicated, but they still might be true. As usual, my criticism is the claim that the evidence is strong, when it isn’t. From the review, by Heather Havrilesky:

Gresham’s Law of experimental methods

A cognitive scientist writes: You’ll be interested to see a comment from one of my students, who’s trying to follow all your advice: It’s hard to see all this bullshit in top journals, while I see that if I do things right, it takes a long time, and I don’t have the beautiful results these […]

Statistics is like basketball, or knitting

I had a recent exchange with a news reporter regarding one of those silly psychology studies. I took a look at the article in question—this time it wasn’t published in Psychological Science or PPNAS so it didn’t get saturation publicity—and indeed it was bad, laughably bad. They didn’t just have the garden of forking paths, […]

Bruised and battered, I couldn’t tell what I felt. I was ungeneralizable to myself.

One more rep. The new thing you just have to read, if you’re following the recent back-and-forth on replication in psychology, is this post at Retraction Watch in which Nosek et al. respond to criticisms from Gilbert et al. regarding the famous replication project. Gilbert et al. claimed that many of the replications in the […]

At this point, even Tom Cruise is skeptical about claims of social priming. (Click to find out why)

The blogger known as Neuroskeptic writes: Can the thought of money make people more conservative? The idea that mere reminders of money can influence people’s attitudes and behaviors is a major claim within the field of social priming – the study of how our behavior is unconsciously influenced by seemingly innocuous stimuli. However, social priming […]

You’ll never guess what David Cox wrote about the garden of forking paths!

Erikson Kaszubowski writes: I have recently read