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Archive of posts filed under the Miscellaneous Science category.

A pivotal episode in the unfolding of the replication crisis

Axel Cleeremans writes: I appreciated your piece titled “What has happened down here is the winds have changed”. Your mini-history of what happened was truly enlightening — but you didn’t explicitly mention our failure to replicate Bargh’s slow walking effect. This was absolutely instrumental in triggering the replication crisis. As you know, the article was […]

No no no no no on “The oldest human lived to 122. Why no person will likely break her record.”

I came across this news article by Brian Resnick entitled: The oldest human lived to 122. Why no person will likely break her record. Even with better medicine, living past 120 years will be extremely unlikely. I was skeptical, and I really didn’t buy it after reading the research article, “Evidence for a limit to […]

“What is a sandpit?”

From Private Eye 1399, in Pseuds Corner: What is a sandpit? Sandpits are residential interactive workshops over five days involving 20-30 participants; the director, a team of expert mentors, and a number of independent stakeholders. Sandpits have a highly multidisciplinary mix of participants, some active researchers and others potential users of research outcomes, to drive […]

What should this student do? His bosses want him to p-hack and they don’t even know it!

Someone writes: I’m currently a PhD student in the social sciences department of a university. I recently got involved with a group of professors working on a project which involved some costly data-collection. None of them have any real statistical prowess, so they came to me to perform their analyses, which I was happy to […]

Noisy, heterogeneous data scoured from diverse sources make his metanalyses stronger.

Kyle MacDonald writes: I wondered if you’d heard of Purvesh Khatri’s work in computational immunology, profiled in this Q&A with Esther Landhuis at Quanta yesterday. Elevator pitch is that he believes noisy, heterogeneous data scoured from diverse sources make his metanalyses stronger. The thing that gave me the woollies was this line: “We start with […]

“A mixed economy is not an economic abomination or even a regrettably unavoidable political necessity but a natural absorbing state,” and other notes on “Whither Science?” by Danko Antolovic

So. I got this email one day, promoting a book that came with the following blurb: Whither Science?, by Danko Antolovic, is a series of essays that explore some of the questions facing modern science. A short read at only 41 pages, Whither Science? looks into the fundamental questions about the purposes, practices and future […]

When people proudly take ridiculous positions

Tom Wolfe on evolution: I think it’s misleading to say that human beings evolved from animals. I mean, actually, nobody knows whether they did or not. This is just sad. Does Wolfe really think this? My guess is he’s trying to do a solid for his political allies. Jerry Coyne writes: Somewhere on his mission […]

The Statistical Crisis in Science—and How to Move Forward (my talk next Monday 6pm at Columbia)

I’m speaking Mon 13 Nov, 6pm, at Low Library Rotunda at Columbia: The Statistical Crisis in Science—and How to Move Forward Using examples ranging from elections to birthdays to policy analysis, Professor Andrew Gelman will discuss ways in which statistical methods have failed, leading to a replication crisis in much of science, as well as […]

“Quality control” (rather than “hypothesis testing” or “inference” or “discovery”) as a better metaphor for the statistical processes of science

I’ve been thinking for awhile that the default ways in which statisticians think about science—and which scientists think about statistics—are seriously flawed, sometimes even crippling scientific inquiry in some subfields, in the way that bad philosophy can do. Here’s what I think are some of the default modes of thought: – Hypothesis testing, in which […]

Science funding and political ideology

Mark Palko points to this news article by Jeffrey Mervis entitled, “Rand Paul takes a poke at U.S. peer-review panels”: Paul made his case for the bill yesterday as chairperson of a Senate panel with oversight over federal spending. The hearing, titled “Broken Beakers: Federal Support for Research,” was a platform for Paul’s claim that […]

I think it’s great to have your work criticized by strangers online.

Brian Resnick writes: I’m hoping you could help me out with a Vox.com story I’m looking into. I’ve been reading about the debate over how past work should be criticized and in what forums. (I’m thinking of the Susan Fiske op-ed against using social media to “bully” authors of papers that are not replicating. But […]

My 2 talks in Seattle this Wed and Thurs: “The Statistical Crisis in Science” and “Bayesian Workflow”

For the Data Science Seminar, Wed 25 Oct, 3:30pm in Physics and Astronomy Auditorium – A102: The Statistical Crisis in Science Top journals routinely publish ridiculous, scientifically implausible claims, justified based on “p < 0.05.” And this in turn calls into question all sorts of more plausible, but not necessarily true, claims, that are supported […]

Does traffic congestion make men beat up their wives?

Max Burton-Chellew writes: I thought this paper and news story (links fixed) might be worthy of your blog? I’m no stats expert, far from it, but this paper raised some alarms for me. If the paper is fine then sorry for wasting your time, if it’s terrible then sorry for ruining your day! Why alarms […]

How to discuss your research findings without getting into “hypothesis testing”?

Zachary Horne writes: I regularly read your blog and have recently started using Stan. One thing that you’ve brought up in the discussion of nhst [null hypothesis significance testing] is the idea that hypothesis testing itself is problematic. However, because I am an experimental psychologist, one thing I do (or I think I’m doing anyway) […]

“La critique est la vie de la science”: I kinda get annoyed when people set themselves up as the voice of reason but don’t ever get around to explaining what’s the unreasonable thing they dislike.

Someone pointed me to a blog post, Negative Psychology, from 2014 by Jim Coan about the replication crisis in psychology. My reaction: I find it hard to make sense of what he is saying because he doesn’t offer any examples of the “negative psychology” phenomenon that he discussing. I kinda get annoyed when people set […]

From perpetual motion machines to embodied cognition: The boundaries of pseudoscience are being pushed back into the trivial.

This exchange came from a comment thread last year. Diana Senechal points to this bizarre thing: Brian Little says in Me, Myself, and Us (regarding the “lemon introvert test”): One of the more interesting ways of informally assessing extraversion at the biogenic level is to do the lemon-drop test. [Description of experiment omitted from present […]

Analyzing New Zealand fatal traffic crashes in Stan with added open-access science

Open-access science I’ll get to the meat of this post in a second, but I just wanted to highlight how the study I’m about to talk about was done in the open and how that helped everyone. Tim Makarios read the study and responded in the blog comments, Hold on. As I first skimmed this […]

“I agree entirely that the way to go is to build some model of attitudes and how they’re affected by recent weather and to fit such a model to “thick” data—rather than to zip in and try to grab statistically significant stylized facts about people’s cognitive illusions in this area.”

Angus Reynolds sent me a long email. I’ll share it in a moment but first here’s my reply: I don’t have much to say here, except that: 1. It’s nearly a year later but Christmas is coming again so here’s my post. 2. Yes, the effects of local weather on climate change attitudes do seem […]

When do we want evidence-based change? Not “after peer review”

Jonathan Falk sent me the above image in an email with subject line, “If this isn’t the picture for some future blog entry I’ll never forgive you.” This was a credible threat so here’s the post. But I don’t agree with that placard at all! Waiting for peer review is a bad idea for two […]

Please contribute to this list of the top 10 do’s and don’ts for doing better science

Demis Glasford does research in social psychology and asks: I was wondering if you had ever considered publishing a top ten ‘do’s/don’ts’ for those of us that are committed to doing better science, but don’t necessarily have the time to devote to all of these issues [of statistics and research methods]. Obviously, there is a […]