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

I refuse to blog about this one

Shravan points me to this article, Twitter Language Use Reflects Psychological Differences between Democrats and Republicans, which begins with the following self-parody of an abstract: Previous research has shown that political leanings correlate with various psychological factors. While surveys and experiments provide a rich source of information for political psychology, data from social networks can […]

The new quantitative journalism

The first of the breed was Bill James. But now we have a bunch: Felix Salmon, Nate Silver, Amanda Cox, Carl Bialik, . . . . I put them in a different category than traditional science journalists such as Malcolm Gladwell, Gina Kolata, Stephen Dubner who are invested in the “scientist as hero” story, or […]

“Brief, decontextualized instances of colaughter”

Bill Jefferys points me to this news article and writes: Looks at first glance like another NPR example of poor statistics, but who knows? I took a look and here were my thoughts, in order of occurrence: NPR . . . PPNAS . . . Also this: “the results were consistent across all the societies […]

Better to just not see the sausage get made

Mike Carniello writes: This article in the NYT leads to the full text, in which these statement are buried (no pun intended): What is the probability that two given texts were written by the same author? This was achieved by posing an alternative null hypothesis H0 (“both texts were written by the same author”) and […]

Things that sound good but aren’t quite right: Art and research edition

There are a lot of things you can say that sound very sensible but, upon reflection, are missing something. For example consider this blog comment from Chris G: Years ago I heard someone suggest these three questions for assessing a work of art: 1. What was the artist attempting to do? 2. Were they successful? […]

An ethnographic study of the “open evidential culture” of research psychology

Claude Fischer points me to this paper by David Peterson, “The Baby Factory: Difficult Research Objects, Disciplinary Standards, and the Production of Statistical Significance,” which begins: Science studies scholars have shown that the management of natural complexity in lab settings is accomplished through a mixture of technological standardization and tacit knowledge by lab workers. Yet […]

Will youths who swill Red Bull become adult cocaine addicts?

The above is the question asked to me by Michael Stutzer, who writes: I have attached an increasingly influential paper [“Effects of Adolescent Caffeine Consumption on Cocaine Sensitivity,” by Casey O’Neill, Sophia Levis, Drew Schreiner, Jose Amat, Steven Maier, and Ryan Bachtell] purporting to show the effects of caffeine use in adolescents (well, lab rats […]

Are stereotypes statistically accurate?

Apparently there’s a debate in psychology about the accuracy of stereotypes. Lin Bian and Andrei Cimpian write: In his book Social Perception and Social Reality, Lee Jussim suggests that people’s beliefs about various groups (i.e., their stereotypes) are largely accurate. We unpack this claim using the distinction between generic and statistical beliefs—a distinction supported by […]

“What can recent replication failures tell us about the theoretical commitments of psychology?”

Psychology/philosophy professor Stan Klein was motivated by our power pose discussion to send along this article which seems to me to be a worthy entry in what I’ve lately been calling “the literature of exasperation,” following in the tradition of Meehl etc. I offer one minor correction. Klein writes, “I have no doubt that the […]

Call for research on California water resources

Patrick Atwater writes: I serve as a project manager of the California Data Collaborative, a coalition of water utilities working together to share data and ensure water reliability. We’ve put together a quick call for ideas on studies into the demand effects of water rates leveraging this unique database. California’s water world is highly fragmented […]

“Children seek historical traces of owned objects”

Recently in the sister blog: An object’s mental representation includes not just visible attributes but also its nonvisible history. The present studies tested whether preschoolers seek subtle indicators of an object’s history, such as a mark acquired during its handling. Five studies with 169 children 3–5 years of age and 97 college students found that […]

You can post social science papers on the new SocArxiv

I learned about it from this post by Elizabeth Popp Berman. The temporary SocArxiv site is here. It is connected to the Open Science Framework, which we’ve heard a lot about in discussions of preregistration. You can post your papers at SocArxiv right away following these easy steps: Send an email to the following address(es) […]

“Most notably, the vast majority of Americans support criminalizing data fraud, and many also believe the offense deserves a sentence of incarceration.”

Justin Pickett sends along this paper he wrote with Sean Roche: Data fraud and selective reporting both present serious threats to the credibility of science. However, there remains considerable disagreement among scientists about how best to sanction data fraud, and about the ethicality of selective reporting. OK, let’s move away from asking scientists. Let’s ask […]

Why experimental economics might well be doing better than social 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 […]