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Archive of posts filed under the Sociology category.

What makes a mathematical formula beautiful?

Hiro Minato pointed me to this paper (hyped here) by Semir Zeki, John Romaya, Dionigi Benincasa, and Michael Atiyah on “The experience of mathematical beauty and its neural correlates,” who report: We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to image the activity in the brains of 15 mathematicians when they viewed mathematical formulae which they […]

More evidence that even top researchers routinely misinterpret p-values

Blake McShane writes: I wanted to write to you about something related to your ongoing posts on replication in psychology as well as your recent post the ASA statement on p-values. In addition to the many problems you and others have documented with the p-value as a measure of evidence (both those computed “honestly” and […]

Ioannidis: “Evidence-Based Medicine Has Been Hijacked”

The celebrated medical-research reformer has a new paper (sent to me by Keith O’Rourke; official published version here), where he writes: As EBM [evidence-based medicine] became more influential, it was also hijacked to serve agendas different from what it originally aimed for. Influential randomized trials are largely done by and for the benefit of the […]

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) […]

Bigmilk strikes again

“I would like to share some sad stories from economics related to these issues”

Per Pettersson-Lidbom from the Department of Economics at Stockholm University writes: I have followed your discussions about replication, criticism, and the self-correcting process of science. I would like to share some sad stories from economics related to these issues. It is the stories about three papers published in highly respected journals, i.e., the study by […]

“Positive Results Are Better for Your Career”

Brad Stiritz writes: I thought you might enjoy reading the following Der Spiegel interview with Peter Wilmshurst. Talk about fighting the good fight! He took the path of greatest resistance, and he beat what I presume are pretty stiff odds. Then the company representatives asked me to leave some of the patients out of the […]

Broken broken windows policy?

A journalist pointed me to this recent report from the New York City Department of Investigation, which begins: Between 2010 and 2015, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) issued 1,839,414 “quality-of-life” summonses for offenses such as public urination, disorderly conduct, drinking alcohol in public, and possession of small amounts of marijuana. . . . […]

When are people gonna realize their studies are dead on arrival?

A comment at Thomas Lumley’s blog pointed me to this discussion by Terry Burnham with an interesting story of some flashy psychology research that failed to replicate. Here’s Burnham: [In his popular book, psychologist Daniel] Kahneman discussed an intriguing finding that people score higher on a test if the questions are hard to read. The […]

It comes down to reality and it’s fine with me cause I’ve let it slide

E. J. Wagenmakers pointed me to this recent article by Roy Baumeister, who writes: Patience and diligence may be rewarded, but competence may matter less than in the past. Getting a significant result with n = 10 often required having an intuitive flair for how to set up the most conducive situation and produce a […]

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 […]

Clarke’s Law: Any sufficiently crappy research is indistinguishable from fraud

The originals: Clarke’s first law: When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong. Clarke’s second law: The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into […]

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 […]

research-lies-allegations-windpipe-surgery

Paul Alper pointed me to this news article with the delightful url, “superstar-doctor-fired-from-swedish-institute-over-research-lies-allegations-windpipe-surgery.” Also here. It reminded me of this discussion from last year. Damn, those windpipe surgeons are the worst. Never should trust them. The pope should never have agreed to officiate at this guy’s wedding.

Objects of the class “Pauline Kael”

A woman who’s arguably the top person ever in a male-dominated field. Steve Sailer introduced the category and entered Pauline Kael (top film critic) as its inaugural member. I followed up with Alice Waters (top chef/restaurateur), Mata Hari (top spy), Agatha Christie (top mystery writer), and Helen Keller (top person who overcame a disability; sorry, […]

“Smaller Share of Women Ages 65 and Older Are Living Alone,” before and after age adjusment

After noticing this from a recent Pew Research report: Ben Hanowell wrote: This made me [Hanowell] think of your critique of Case and Deaton’s finding about non-Hispanic mortality. I wonder how much these results are driven by the fact that the population of adults aged 65 and older has gotten older with increasing lifespans, etc […]

Racial classification sociology controversy update

The other day I posted on a controversy in sociology where Aliya Saperstein and Andrew Penner analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, coming to the conclusion that “that race is not a fixed characteristic of individuals but is flexible and continually negotiated in everyday interactions,” but then Lance Hannon and Robert DeFina […]

Social problems with a paper in Social Problems

Here’s the story. In 2010, sociologists Aliya Saperstein and Andrew Penner published in the journal Social Problems a paper, “The race of a criminal record: How incarceration colors racial perceptions,” reporting: This study extends the conversation by exploring whether being incarcerated affects how individuals perceive their own race as well as how they are perceived […]

Taking responsibility for your statistical conclusions: You must decide what variation to compare to.

A couple people pointed me to a recent paper by Josh Terrell, Andrew Kofink, Justin Middleton, Clarissa Rainear, Emerson Murphy-Hill​, and Chris Parnin, “Gender bias in open source: Pull request acceptance of women versus men.” The term “bias” seems a bit loaded given the descriptive nature of their study. That said, it’s good for people […]

“The Natural Selection of Bad Science”

That’s the title of a new paper by Paul Smaldino and Richard McElreath which presents a sort of agent-based model that reproduces the growth in the publication of junk science that we’ve seen in recent decades. Even before looking at this paper I was positively disposed toward it for two reasons. First because I do […]