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Archive of posts filed under the Public Health category.

“Not statistically significant” != 0, stents edition

Doug Helmreich writes: OK, I work at a company that is involved in stents, so I’m not unbiased, but… http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/newssummary/news_2-11-2017-15-52-46 and especially https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/02/health/heart-disease-stents.html The research design is pretty cool—placebo participants got a sham surgery with no stent implanted. The results show that people with the stent did have better metrics than those with just the […]

No, there is no epidemic of loneliness. (Or, Dog Bites Man: David Brooks runs another column based on fake stats)

[adorable image] Remember David Brooks? The NYT columnist, NPR darling, and former reporter who couldn’t correctly report the price of a meal at Red Lobster? The guy who got it wrong about where billionaires come from and who thought it was fun to use one of his columns to make fun of a urologist (ha […]

How to reduce Type M errors in exploratory research?

Miao Yu writes: Recently, I found this piece [a news article by Janet Pelley, Sulfur dioxide pollution tied to degraded sperm quality, published in Chemical & Engineering News] and the original paper [Inverse Association between Ambient Sulfur Dioxide Exposure and Semen Quality in Wuhan, China, by Yuewei Liu, published in Environmental Science & Technology]. Air […]

“16 and Pregnant”

Ted Joyce writes: In December 2015 the AER published an article, “Media Influences on Social Outcomes: The Impact of MTV’s 16 and Pregnant on Teen Childbearing,” by Melissa Kearney and Phil Levine [KL]. The NBER working paper of this article appeared in January of 2014. It received huge media attention as the authors claimed the […]

43 is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do

Peter Hickman writes: I am a research assistant for an economist, and I just came across something that seems to me to be poor research that is getting media coverage. The Cigna study is here. It’s measuring the degree of loneliness in America. You can click “read the full report” for more details. If you […]

Early p-hacking investments substantially boost adult publication record

In a post with the title “Overstated findings, published in Science, on long-term health effects of a well-known early childhood program,” Perry Wilson writes: In this paper [“Early Childhood Investments Substantially Boost Adult Health,” by Frances Campbell, Gabriella Conti, James Heckman, Seong Hyeok Moon, Rodrigo Pinto, Elizabeth Pungello, and Yi Pan], published in Science in […]

Economic growth -> healthy kids?

Joe Cummins writes: Anaka Aiyar and I have a new working paper on economic growth and child health. Any comments from you or your readers would be much appreciated. In terms of subject matter, it fits in pretty nicely with the Demography discussions on the blog (Deaton/Case, age adjustment, interpreting population level changes in meaningful […]

Proposed new EPA rules requiring open data and reproducibility

Tom Daula points to this news article by Heidi Vogt, “EPA Wants New Rules to Rely Solely on Public Data,” with subtitle, “Agency says proposal means transparency; scientists see public-health risk.” Vogt writes: The Environmental Protection Agency plans to restrict research used in developing regulations, the agency said Tuesday . . . The new proposal […]

Individual and aggregate causal effects: Social media and depression among teenagers

This one starts out as a simple story of correction of a statistical analysis and turns into an interesting discussion of causal inference for multilevel models. Michael Daly writes: I saw your piece on ‘Have Smartphone Destroyed a Generation’ and wanted to flag some of the associations underlying key claims in this debate (which is […]

Postdoc opportunity at AstraZeneca in Cambridge, England, in Bayesian Machine Learning using Stan!

Here it is: Predicting drug toxicity with Bayesian machine learning models We’re currently looking for talented scientists to join our innovative academic-style Postdoc. From our centre in Cambridge, UK you’ll be in a global pharmaceutical environment, contributing to live projects right from the start. You’ll take part in a comprehensive training programme, including a focus […]

An Upbeat Mood May Boost Your Paper’s Publicity

Gur Huberman points to this news article, An Upbeat Mood May Boost Your Flu Shot’s Effectiveness, which states: A new study suggests that older people who are in a good mood when they get the shot have a better immune response. British researchers followed 138 people ages 65 to 85 who got the 2014-15 vaccine. […]

Generable: They’re building software for pharma, with Stan inside.

Daniel Lee writes: We’ve just launched our new website. Generable is where precision medicine meets statistical machine learning. We are building a state-of-the-art platform to make individual, patient-level predictions for safety and efficacy of treatments. We’re able to do this by building Bayesian models with Stan. We currently have pilots with AstraZeneca, Sanofi, and University […]

Tools for detecting junk science? Transparency is the key.

In an article to appear in the journal Child Development, “Distinguishing polemic from commentary in science,” physicist David Grimes and psychologist Dorothy Bishop write: Exposure to nonionizing radiation used in wireless communication remains a contentious topic in the public mind—while the overwhelming scientific evidence to date suggests that microwave and radio frequencies used in modern […]

The Millennium Villages Project: a retrospective, observational, endline evaluation

Shira Mitchell et al. write (preprint version here if that link doesn’t work): The Millennium Villages Project (MVP) was a 10 year, multisector, rural development project, initiated in 2005, operating across ten sites in ten sub-Saharan African countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). . . . In this endline evaluation of the MVP, […]

This one’s important: How to better analyze cancer drug trials using multilevel models.

Paul Alper points us to this news article, “Cancer Conundrum—Too Many Drug Trials, Too Few Patients,” by Gina Kolata, who writes: With the arrival of two revolutionary treatment strategies, immunotherapy and personalized medicine, cancer researchers have found new hope — and a problem that is perhaps unprecedented in medical research. There are too many experimental […]

Debate over claims of importance of spending on Obamacare advertising

Jerrod Anderson points to this post by Paul Shafer, Erika Fowler, Laura Baum, and Sarah Gollust, “Advertising cutbacks reduce Marketplace information-seeking behavior: Lessons from Kentucky for 2018.” Anderson expresses skepticism about this claim. I’ll first summarize the claims of Shafer et al. and then get to Anderson’s criticism. Shafer et al. write: The Trump administration […]

Are self-driving cars 33 times more deadly than regular cars?

Paul Kedrosky writes: I’ve been mulling the noise over Uber’s pedestrian death. While there are fewer pedestrian deaths so far from autonomous cars than non-autonomous (one in a few thousand hours, versus 1 every 1.5 hours), there is also, of course, a big difference in rates per passenger-mile. The rate for autonomous cars is now […]

Some of the data from the NRA conventions and firearm injuries study

Dave Kane writes: You wrote about the NRA conventions and firearm injuries study here. The lead author, Anupam Jena, kindly provided some of the underlying data and a snippet of the code they used to me. You can see it all here. The data are here. I [Kane] wrote up a brief analysis, R Markdown […]

The moral hazard of quantitative social science: Causal identification, statistical inference, and policy

A couple people pointed me to this article, “The Moral Hazard of Lifesaving Innovations: Naloxone Access, Opioid Abuse, and Crime,” by Jennifer Doleac and Anita Mukherjee, which begins: The United States is experiencing an epidemic of opioid abuse. In response, many states have increased access to Naloxone, a drug that can save lives when administered […]

The purpose of a pilot study is to demonstrate the feasibility of an experiment, not to estimate the treatment effect

David Allison sent this along: – Press release from original paper: “The dramatic decrease in BMI, although unexpected in this short time frame, demonstrated that the [Shaping Healthy Choices Program] SHCP was effective . . .” – Comment on paper and call for correction or retraction: “. . . these facts show that the analyses […]