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Archive of posts filed under the Miscellaneous Science category.

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 from deviantart.com) 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 are […]

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

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 in a […]

“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 […]

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 […]

Two unrelated topics in one post: (1) Teaching useful algebra classes, and (2) doing more careful psychological measurements

Kevin Lewis and Paul Alper send me so much material, I think they need their own blogs. In the meantime, I keep posting the stuff they send me, as part of my desperate effort to empty my inbox. 1. From Lewis: “Should Students Assessed as Needing Remedial Mathematics Take College-Level Quantitative Courses Instead? A Randomized […]

“The Pitfall of Experimenting on the Web: How Unattended Selective Attrition Leads to Surprising (Yet False) Research Conclusions”

Kevin Lewis points us to this paper by Haotian Zhou and Ayelet Fishbach, which begins: The authors find that experimental studies using online samples (e.g., MTurk) often violate the assumption of random assignment, because participant attrition—quitting a study before completing it and getting paid—is not only prevalent, but also varies systemically across experimental conditions. Using […]

“I thought it would be most unfortunate if a lab . . . wasted time and effort trying to replicate our results.”

Mark Palko points us to this news article by George Dvorsky: A Harvard research team led by biologist Douglas Melton has retracted a promising research paper following multiple failed attempts to reproduce the original findings. . . . In June 2016, the authors published an article in the open access journal PLOS One stating that […]

Applying statistical thinking to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence

Thomas Basbøll writes: A statistical question has been bugging me lately. I recently heard that Yuti Milner has donated 100 millions dollars to 10-year search for extraterrestrial intelligence. I’m not very practiced in working out probability functions but I thought maybe you or your readers would find it easy and fun to do this. Here’s […]

Designing an animal-like brain: black-box “deep learning algorithms” to solve problems, with an (approximately) Bayesian “consciousness” or “executive functioning organ” that attempts to make sense of all these inferences

The journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences will be publishing this paper, “Building Machines That Learn and Think Like People,” by Brenden Lake, Tomer Ullman, Joshua Tenenbaum, and Samuel Gershman. Here’s the abstract: Recent progress in artificial intelligence (AI) has renewed interest in building systems that learn and think like people. Many advances have come from […]

Science journalist recommends going easy on Bigfoot, says you should bash of mammograms instead

Paul Alper points us to this transcribed lecture by John Horgan. It’s a talk Horgan gave to a conference on Science and Skepticism, which began: I [Horgan] am a science journalist. I don’t celebrate science, I criticize it, because science needs critics more than cheerleaders. I point out gaps between scientific hype and reality. That […]

The social world is (in many ways) continuous but people’s mental models of the world are Boolean

Raghu Parthasarathy points me to this post and writes: I wrote after seeing one too many talks in which someone bases boolean statements about effects “existing” or “not existing” (infuriating in itself) based on “p < 0.05” or “p > 0.5”. Of course, you’ve written tons of great things on the pitfalls, errors, and general […]