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Archive of posts filed under the Miscellaneous Science category.

Cognitive skills rising and falling

David Hogg writes: I thought this was either interesting or bunk—using online games to infer how various kinds of cognitive intelligence vary with age. I thought it might be interesting to you on a number of levels. For one: Are there really categories of intelligence and can these map onto online games? For another: How […]

Low-power pose

“The samples were collected in privacy, using passive drool procedures, and frozen immediately.” Anna Dreber sends along a paper, “Assessing the Robustness of Power Posing: No Effect on Hormones and Risk Tolerance in a Large Sample of Men and Women,” which she published in Psychological Science with coauthors Eva Ranehill, Magnus Johannesson, Susanne Leiberg, Sunhae […]


Leonid Schneider writes: I am cell biologist turned science journalist after 13 years in academia. Despite my many years experience as scientist, I shamefully admit to be largely incompetent in statistics. My request to you is as follows: A soon to be published psychology study set on to reproduce 100 randomly picked earlier studies and […]


Reflecting on the recent psychology replication study (see also here), journalist Megan McArdle writes an excellent column on why we fall for bogus research: The problem is not individual research papers, or even the field of psychology. It’s the way that academic culture filters papers, and the way that the larger society gets their results. […]

Meet Teletherm, the hot new climate change statistic!

Peter Dodds, Lewis Mitchell, Andrew Reagan, and Christopher Danforth write: We introduce, formalize, and explore what we believe are fundamental climatological and seasonal markers: the Summer and Winter Teletherm—the on-average hottest and coldest days of the year. We measure the Teletherms using 25 and 50 year averaging windows for 1218 stations in the contiguous United […]

To understand the replication crisis, imagine a world in which everything was published.

John Snow points me to this post by psychology researcher Lisa Feldman Barrett who reacted to the recent news on the non-replication of many psychology studies with a contrarian, upbeat take, entitled “Psychology Is Not in Crisis.” Here’s Barrett: An initiative called the Reproducibility Project at the University of Virginia recently reran 100 psychology experiments […]

Uri Simonsohn warns us not to be falsely reassured

I agree with Uri Simonsohn that you don’t learn much by looking at the distribution of all the p-values that have appeared in some literature. Uri explains: Most p-values reported in most papers are irrelevant for the strategic behavior of interest. Covariates, manipulation checks, main effects in studies testing interactions, etc. Including them we underestimate […]

New paper on psychology replication

The Open Science Collaboration, a team led by psychology researcher Brian Nosek, organized the replication of 100 published psychology experiments. They report: A large portion of replications produced weaker evidence for the original findings despite using materials provided by the original authors, review in advance for methodological fidelity, and high statistical power to detect the […]

“Women Respond to Nobel Laureate’s ‘Trouble With Girls'”

Someone pointed me to this amusing/horrifying story of a clueless oldster. Some people are horrified by what the old guy said, other people are horrified by how he was treated. He was clueless in his views about women in science, or he was cluelessly naive about gotcha journalism. I haven’t been following the details and […]

“We can keep debating this after 11 years, but I’m sure we all have much more pressing things to do (grants? papers? family time? attacking 11-year-old papers by former classmates? guitar practice?)”

Someone pointed me to this discussion by Lior Pachter of a controversial claim in biology. The statistics The statistical content has to do with a biology paper by M. Kellis, B. W. Birren, and E.S. Lander from 2004 that contains the following passage: Strikingly, 95% of cases of accelerated evolution involve only one member of […]

Richard Feynman and the tyranny of measurement

I followed a link at Steve Hsu’s blog and came to this discussion of Feyman’s cognitive style. Hsu writes that “it was often easier for [Feynman] to invent his own solution than to read through someone else’s lengthy paper” and he follows up with a story in which “Feynman did not understand the conventional formulation […]

Psych dept: “We are especially interested in candidates whose research program contributes to the development of new quantitative methods”

This is cool. The #1 psychology department in the world is looking for a quantitative researcher: The Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, invites applications for a tenure-track faculty position. The expected start date is September 1, 2016. The primary criterion for appointment is excellence in research and teaching. We are […]

“Physical Models of Living Systems”

Phil Nelson writes: I’d like to alert you that my new textbook, “Physical Models of Living Systems,” has just been published. Among other things, this book is my attempt to bring Bayesian inference to undergraduates in any science or engineering major, and the course I teach from it has been enthusiastically received. The book is […]

Economists betting on replication

Mark Patterson writes: A bunch of folks are collaborating on a project to replicate 18 experimental studies published in prominent Econ journals (mostly American Economic Review, a few Quarterly Journal of Economics). This is already pretty exciting, but the really cool bit is they’re opening a market (with real money) to predict which studies will […]

Humility needed in decision-making

Brian MacGillivray and Nick Pidgeon write: Daniel Gilbert maintains that people generally make bad decisions on risk issues, and suggests that communication strategies and education programmes would help (Nature 474, 275–277; 2011). This version of the deficit model pervades policy-making and branches of the social sciences. In this model, conflicts between expert and public perceptions […]

Sam Smith sings like a dream but he’s as clueless as Nicholas Wade when it comes to genetics

Psychologists speak of “folk psychology” or “folk physics” as the intuitive notions we have about the world, which typically describe some aspects of reality but ultimately are gross oversimplifications. I encountered a good example of “folk genetics” the other day after following the clickbait link to “22 Things We Learned Hanging Out With Sam Smith”: […]

Born-open data

Jeff Rouder writes: Although many researchers agree that scientific data should be open to scrutiny to ferret out poor analyses and outright fraud, most raw data sets are not available on demand. There are many reasons researchers do not open their data, and one is technical. It is often time consuming to prepare and archive […]

Cross-validation != magic

In a post entitled “A subtle way to over-fit,” John Cook writes: If you train a model on a set of data, it should fit that data well. The hope, however, is that it will fit a new set of data well. So in machine learning and statistics, people split their data into two parts. […]

My final post on this Tony Blair thing

Gur Huberman writes on the recent fraud in experiments in polisci: This comment is a reaction to the little of the discussion which I [Gur] followed, mostly in the NYTimes. What I didn’t see anybody say is that the system actually worked. First, there’s a peer-reviewed report in Science. Then other people deem the results […]

The greatest impediment to research progress is not impediments to research progress, it is scientists reading about impediments to research progress

My short answer is that I think twitter is destructive of clear communication. Now I’ll give the question, and I’ll give my long answer. Here’s the question provided by a reader: Just wondering what you thought of Brian Nosek’s recent comment on twitter, “The biggest impediment to research progress is not fraud, it is all […]