Skip to content
Archive of posts filed under the Miscellaneous Science category.

“Building on theories used to describe magnets, scientists have put together a model that captures something very different . . .”

There’s a story that (some) physicists and science reporters seem to like, which is the idea that some clever mathematician or physicist can derive universal laws of social behavior. It’s time to tell you all: Hari Seldon never existed. Here’s what I think of these stories of physicists who discover the laws of society. I […]

Estimating a customer satisfaction regression, asking only a subset of predictors for each person

Someone writes in with an interesting question: I’d like to speak with you briefly to get your thoughts on the imputation of missing data in a new online web-survey technique I’m developing. Our survey uses Split Questionnaire Design. The total number of surveys will vary in length with different customers, but will generally be between […]

Hurricanes/himmicanes extra: Again with the problematic nature of the scientific publication process

Jeremy Freese has the story. To me, the sad thing is not that people who don’t understand statistics are doing research. After all, statistics is hard, and to require statistical understanding of all quantitative researchers would be impossible to enforce in any case. Indeed, if anything, one of the goals of the statistical profession is […]

The Syrian p-value that I didn’t bother to calculate

I posted something on the sister blog about the fake vote totals from the Syrian election. We know the numbers are fake from the official report, which reads: Speaker of the People’s Assembly, Mohammad Jihad al-Laham announced Wednesday that Dr. Bashar Hafez al-Assad won the post of the Syrian Arab Republic’s President for a new […]

Identifying pathways for managing multiple disturbances to limit plant invasions

Andrew Tanentzap, William Lee, Adrian Monks, Kate Ladley, Peter Johnson, Geoffrey Rogers, Joy Comrie, Dean Clarke, and Ella Hayman write: We tested a multivariate hypothesis about the causal mechanisms underlying plant invasions in an ephemeral wetland in South Island, New Zealand to inform management of this biodiverse but globally imperilled habitat. . . . We […]

I posted this as a comment on a sociology blog

I discussed two problems: 1. An artificial scarcity applied to journal publication, a scarcity which I believe is being enforced based on a monetary principle of not wanting to reduce the value of publication. The problem is that journals don’t just spread information and improve communication, they also represent chits for hiring and promotion. I’d […]

When you believe in things that you don’t understand

Rolf Zwaan gives an excellent discussion of how superstition can arise and perpetuate itself: A social-behavioral priming experiment is like rolling a 20-sided die, an icosahedron. If you roll the die a number of times, 20 will turn up at some point. Bingo! You have a significant effect. In fact, given what we now know […]

Why I decided not to be a physicist

As I’ve written before, I was a math and physics major in college but I switched to statistics because math seemed pointless if you weren’t the best (and I knew there were people better than me), and I just didn’t feel like I had a good physical understanding. My lack of physical understanding comes up […]

My short career as a Freud expert

I received the following email the other day (well, actually it was the other month, as we’re still on blog-delay): Dear Prof. Andrew Gelman, The ** Broadcasting Authority, together with ** – a well-established production company, are producing a documentary about Freud. The documentary presents different points of view regarding Freud’s personality and theories. At […]

Historical Arc of Universities

This post is by David K. Park Even though I’m an engineer with a PhD in political science, I tend to gravitate toward history to anchor my contextual lens. (If fact, if I were pressed to put a methodological stake in the ground, I would say I’m a historical comparative institutional ecologist.) In that regard, […]