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Archive of posts filed under the Miscellaneous Science category.

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, […]

Nicholas Wade and the paradox of racism

The paradox of racism is that at any given moment, the racism of the day seems reasonable and very possibly true, but the racism of the past always seems so ridiculous.

Discussion with Steven Pinker on research that is attached to data that are so noisy as to be essentially uninformative

I pointed Steven Pinker to my post, How much time (if any) should we spend criticizing research that’s fraudulent, crappy, or just plain pointless?, and he responded: Clearly it *is* important to call out publicized research whose conclusions are likely to be false. The only danger is that it’s so easy and fun to criticize, […]

Can we make better graphs of global temperature history?

Chris Gittins sends along this post by Gavin Schmidt, who writes: Some editors at Wikipedia have made an attempt to produce a complete record for the Phanerozoic: But these collations are imperfect in many ways. On the last figure the time axis is a rather confusing mix of linear segments and logarithmic scaling, there is […]

Seth Roberts

I met Seth back in the early 1990s when we were both professors at the University of California. He sometimes came to the statistics department seminar and we got to talking about various things; in particular we shared an interest in statistical graphics. Much of my work in this direction eventually went toward the use […]

Crowdstorming a dataset

Raphael Silberzahn writes: Brian Nosek, Eric Luis Uhlmann, Dan Martin, and I just launched a project through the Open Science Center we think you’ll find interesting. The basic idea is to “Crowdstorm a Dataset”. Multiple independent analysts are recruited to test the same hypothesis on the same data set in whatever manner they see as […]