Skip to content
Archive of posts filed under the Sociology category.

The “Carl Sagan effect”

Javier Benítez writes: I am not in academia, but I have learned a lot about science from what’s available to the public. But I also didn’t know that public outreach is looked down upon by academia. See the Carl Sagan Effect. Susana Martinez-Conde writes: One scientist, who agreed to participate on the condition of anonymity—an […]

The course of science

Shravan Vasishth sends this along: Yup. Not always, though. Even though the above behavior is rewarded.

What happens to your career when you have to retract a paper?

In response to our recent post on retractions, Josh Krieger sends along two papers he worked on with Pierre Azoulay, Jeff Furman, Fiona Murray, and Alessandro Bonatti. Krieger writes, “Both papers are about the spillover effects of retractions on other work. Turns out retractions are great for identification!” Paper #1: “The career effects of scandal: […]

Should the points in this scatterplot be binned?

Someone writes: Care to comment on this paper‘s Figure 4? I found it a bit misleading to do scatter plots after averaging over multiple individuals. Most scatter plots could be “improved” this way to make things look much cleaner than they are. People are already advertising the paper using this figure. The article, Genetic analysis […]

All of Life is 6 to 5 Against

Donny Williams writes: I have a question I have been considering asking you for a while. The more I have learned about Bayesian methods, including regularly reading the journal Bayesian Analysis (preparing a submission here, actually!), etc., I have come to not only see that frequency properties are studied of Bayesian models, but it is […]

Reply-all loop

I didn’t think this still happened in 2018 . . . I opened my email to see 50 emails, from 50 different people, all with the same meaningless subject line. (In case you’re curious, it was “Re: Clerkships team.”) There was no initial email: All 50 of the messages were of the form, “Hey, this […]

The “Psychological Science Accelerator”: it’s probably a good idea but I’m still skeptical

Asher Meir points us to this post by Christie Aschwanden entitled, “Can Teamwork Solve One Of Psychology’s Biggest Problems?”, which begins: Psychologist Christopher Chartier admits to a case of “physics envy.” That field boasts numerous projects on which international research teams come together to tackle big questions. Just think of CERN’s Large Hadron Collider or […]

Ways of knowing in computer science and statistics

Brad Groff writes: Thought you might find this post by Ferenc Huszar interesting. Commentary on how we create knowledge in machine learning research and how we resolve benchmark results with (belated) theory. Key passage: You can think of “making a a deep learning method work on a dataset” as a statistical test. I would argue […]

When does the quest for beauty lead science astray?

Under the heading, “please blog about this,” Shravan Vasishth writes: This book by a theoretical physicist [Sabine Hossenfelder] is awesome. The book trailer is here. Some quotes from her blog: “theorists in the foundations of physics have been spectacularly unsuccessful with their predictions for more than 30 years now.” “Everyone is happily producing papers in […]

One good and one bad response to statistics’ diversity problem

(This is Dan) As conference season rolls into gear, I thought I’d write a short post contrasting some responses by statistical societies to the conversation that the community has been having about harassment of women and minorities at workshops and conferences. ISI: Do what I say, not what I do Let’s look at a different diversity […]

Do women want more children than they end up having?

Abigail Haddad writes: In

A style of argument can be effective in an intellectual backwater but fail in the big leagues—but maybe it’s a good thing to have these different research communities

Following on a post on Tom Wolfe’s evolution-denial trolling, Thanatos Savehn pointed to this obituary, “Jerry A. Fodor, Philosopher Who Plumbed the Mind’s Depths, Dies at 82,” which had lots of interesting items, including this: “We think that what is needed,” they wrote, “is to cut the tree at its roots: to show that Darwin’s […]

We’re putting together a list of big, high profile goals that proved far more challenging than people had anticipated circa 1970

Palko writes: The postwar era (roughly defined here as 1945 to 1970) was a period of such rapid and ubiquitous technological and scientific advances that people naturally assumed that this rate of progress would continue or even accelerate. This led not just futurists like Arthur C Clarke but also researchers in the fields to underestimate […]

The necessity—and the difficulty—of admitting failure in research and clinical practice

Bill Jefferys sends along this excellent newspaper article by Siddhartha Mukherjee, “A failure to heal,” about the necessity—and the difficulty—of admitting failure in research and clinical practice. Mukherjee writes: What happens when a clinical trial fails? This year, the Food and Drug Administration approved some 40 new medicines to treat human illnesses, including 13 for […]

“Peeriodicals”: A new system of virtual journals

Brandon Stell writes: The PubPeer Foundation will soon be launching a new scientific discussion project: “Peeriodicals”. As you will discover by following the link below, Peeriodicals are virtual journals with you as Editor-in-chief. I love this idea, in part because it reminds me of my proposal to replace journals with recommender systems. The only post […]

All Fools in a Circle

A graduate student in psychology writes: Grants do not fund you unless you have pilot data – and moreover – show some statistically significant finding in your N of 20 or 40 – in essence trying to convince the grant reviewers that there is “something there” worth them providing your lab lots of money to […]

Tali Sharot responds to my comments on a recent op-ed

Yesterday I posted some comments on an op-ed by by Tali Sharot and Cass Sunstein. Sharot sent the following response: I wanted to correct a few inaccuracies, which two of your commenters were quick to catch (Jeff and Dale). It seems you have 3 objections 1. “Participants did not learn about others’ opinions. There were […]

Click here to find out how these 2 top researchers hyped their work in a NYT op-ed!

Gur Huberman pointed me to this NYT op-ed entitled “Would You Go to a Republican Doctor?”, written by two professors describing their own research, that begins as follows: Suppose you need to see a dermatologist. Your friend recommends a doctor, explaining that “she trained at the best hospital in the country and is regarded as […]

The Manager’s Path (book recommendation for new managers)

I (Bob) was visiting Matt Hoffman (of NUTS fame) at Google in California a few weeks ago, and he recommended the following book: Camille Fournier. 2017. The Manager’s Path. O’Reilly. It’s ordered from being an employee, to being a tech lead, to managing a small team, to managing teams of teams, and I stopped there. […]

How to think about research, and research criticism, and research criticism criticism, and research criticism criticism criticism?

Some people pointed me to this article, “Issues with data and analyses: Errors, underlying themes, and potential solutions,” by Andrew Brown, Kathryn Kaiser, and David Allison. They discuss “why focusing on errors [in science] is important,” “underlying themes of errors and their contributing factors, “the prevalence and consequences of errors,” and “how to improve conditions […]