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Archive of posts filed under the Sociology category.

“Estimating trends in mortality for the bottom quartile, we found little evidence that survival probabilities declined dramatically.”

Last year there was much discussion here and elsewhere about a paper by Anne Case and Angus Deaton, who noticed that death rates for non-Hispanic white Americans aged 45-54 had been roughly flat since 1999, even while the death rates for this age category had been declining steadily in other countries and among nonwhite Americans. […]

Powerpose update

I contacted Anna Dreber, one of the authors of the paper that failed to replicate power pose, and asked her about a particular question that came up regarding their replication study. One of the authors of the original power pose study wrote that the replication “varied methodologically in about a dozen ways — some of […]

When do stories work, Process tracing, and Connections between qualitative and quantitative research

Jonathan Stray writes: I read your “when do stories work” paper (with Thomas Basbøll) with interest—as a journalist stories are of course central to my field. I wondered if you had encountered the “process tracing” literature in political science? It attempts to make sense of stories as “case studies” and there’s a nice logic of […]

Confirmation bias

Shravan Vasishth is unimpressed by this evidence that was given to support the claim that being bilingual postpones symptoms of dementia: My reaction: Seems like there could be some selection issues, no? Shravan: Also, low sample size, and confirming what she already believes. I would be more impressed if she found evidence against the bilingual […]

The Lure of Luxury

From the sister blog, a response to an article by psychologist Paul Bloom on why people own things they don’t really need: Paul Bloom argues that humans dig deep, look beyond the surface, and attend to the nonobvious in ways that add to our pleasure and appreciation of the world of objects. I [Susan] wholly […]

About that claim in the Monkey Cage that North Korea had “moderate” electoral integrity . . .

Yesterday I wrote about problems with the Electoral Integrity Project, a set of expert surveys that are intended to “evaluate the state of the world’s elections” but have some problems, notably rating more than half of the U.S. states in 2016 as having lower integrity than Cuba (!) and North Korea (!!!) in 2014. I […]

Migration explaining observed changes in mortality rate in different geographic areas?

We know that the much-discussed increase in mortality among middle-aged U.S. whites is mostly happening among women in the south. In response to some of that discussion, Tim Worstall wrote: I [Worstall] have a speculative answer. It is absolutely speculative: but it is also checkable to some extent. Really, I’m channelling my usual critique of […]

Transformative treatments

Kieran Healy and Laurie Paul wrote a new article, “Transformative Treatments,” (see also here) which reminds me a bit of my article with Guido, “Why ask why? Forward causal inference and reverse causal questions.” Healy and Paul’s article begins: Contemporary social-scientific research seeks to identify specific causal mechanisms for outcomes of theoretical interest. Experiments that […]

“I thought it would be most unfortunate if a lab . . . wasted time and effort trying to replicate our results.”

Mark Palko points us to this news article by George Dvorsky: A Harvard research team led by biologist Douglas Melton has retracted a promising research paper following multiple failed attempts to reproduce the original findings. . . . In June 2016, the authors published an article in the open access journal PLOS One stating that […]

Ethics and statistics

For a few years now, I’ve been writing a column in Chance. Below are the articles so far. This is by no means an exhaustive list of my writings on ethics and statistics but at least I thought it could help to collect these columns in one place. Ethics and statistics: Open data and open […]

p=.03, it’s gotta be true!

Howie Lempel writes: Showing a white person a photo of Obama w/ artificially dark skin instead of artificially lightened skin before asking whether they support the Tea Party raises their probability of saying “yes” from 12% to 22%. 255 person Amazon Turk and Craigs List sample, p=.03. Nothing too unusual about this one. But it’s […]

What’s powdery and comes out of a metallic-green cardboard can?

This (by Jason Torchinsky, from Stay Free magazine, around 1998?) is just hilarious. We used to have both those shake-out-the-powder cans, Comet and that parmesan cheese, in our house when I was growing up.

An efficiency argument for post-publication review

This came up in a discussion last week: We were talking about problems with the review process in scientific journals, and a commenter suggested that prepublication review should be more rigorous: There are lot of statistical missteps you just can’t catch until you actually have the replication data in front of you to work with […]

Temple Grandin

She also belongs in the “objects of class Pauline Kael” category. Most autistic people are male, but Temple Grandin is the most famous and accomplished autistic person ever.

Data 1, NPR 0

Jay “should replace the Brooks brothers on the NYT op-ed page” Livingston writes: There it was again, the panic about the narcissism of millennialas as evidenced by selfies. This time it was NPR’s podcast Hidden Brain. The show’s host Shankar Vedantam chose to speak with only one researcher on the topic – psychologist Jean Twenge, […]

Frustration with published results that can’t be reproduced, and journals that don’t seem to care

Thomas Heister writes: Your recent post about Per Pettersson-Lidbom frustrations in reproducing study results reminded me of our own recent experience that we had in replicating a paper in PLOSone. We found numerous substantial errors but eventually gave up as, frustratingly, the time and effort didn’t seem to change anything and the journal’s editors quite […]

Some U.S. demographic data at zipcode level conveniently in R

Ari Lamstein writes: I chuckled when I read your recent “R Sucks” post. Some of the comments were a bit … heated … so I thought to send you an email instead. I agree with your point that some of the datasets in R are not particularly relevant. The way that I’ve addressed that is […]

How can you evaluate a research paper?

Shea Levy writes: You ended a post from last month [i.e., Feb.] with the injunction to not take the fact of a paper’s publication or citation status as meaning anything, and instead that we should “read each paper on its own.” Unfortunately, while I can usually follow e.g. the criticisms of a paper you might […]

Individual and aggregate patterns in the Equality of Opportunity research project

Dale Lehman writes: I’ve been looking at the work of the Equality of Opportunity Project and noticed that you had commented on some of their work. Since you are somewhat familiar with the work, and since they do not respond to my queries, I thought I’d ask you about something that is bothering me. I, […]

Only on the internet . . .

I had this bizarrely escalating email exchange. It started with this completely reasonable message: Professor, I was unable to run your code here: Besides a small typo [you have a 1 after names (options)], the code fails when you actually run the function. The error I get is a lexical error: Error: lexical error: […]