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Archive of posts filed under the Sociology category.

NPR’s gonna NPR

I was gonna give this post the title, Stat Rage More Severe in the Presence of First-Class Journals, but then I thought I’d keep it simple. Chapter 1. Background OK, here’s what happened. A couple weeks ago someone pointed me to a low-quality paper that appeared in PPNAS (the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy […]

Cracks in the thin blue line

When people screw up or cheat in their research, what do their collaborators say? The simplest case is when coauthors admit their error, as Cexun Jeffrey Cai and I did when it turned out that we’d miscoded a key variable in an analysis, invalidating the empirical claims of our award-winning paper. On the other extreme, […]

Andrew Gelman is not the plagiarism police because there is no such thing as the plagiarism police.

The title of this post is a line that Thomas Basbøll wrote a couple years ago. Before I go on, let me say that the fact that I have not investigated this case in detail is not meant to imply that it’s not important or that it’s not worth investigating. It’s just not something that […]

Why is the scientific replication crisis centered on psychology?

The replication crisis is a big deal. But it’s a problem in lots of scientific fields. Why is so much of the discussion about psychology research? Why not economics, which is more controversial and gets more space in the news media? Or medicine, which has higher stakes and a regular flow of well-publicized scandals? Here […]

Acupuncture paradox update

The acupuncture paradox, as we discussed earlier, is: The scientific consensus appears to be that, to the extent that acupuncture makes people feel better, it is through relaxing the patient, also the acupuncturist might help in other ways, encouraging the patient to focus on his or her lifestyle. But whenever I discuss the topic with […]

An auto-mechanic-style sign for data sharing

Yesterday’s story reminds me of that sign you used to see at the car repair shop: Maybe we need something similar for data access rules: DATA RATES PER HOUR If you want to write a press release for us $ 50.00 If you want to write a new paper using our data $ 90.00 If […]

Sharing data: Here’s how you do it, and here’s how you don’t

I received the following email today: Professor Gelman, My name is **, I am a senior at the University of ** studying **, and recently came across your paper, “What is the Probability That Your Vote Will Make a Difference?” in my Public Choice class. I am wondering if you are able to send me […]

Bayesian Statistics Then and Now

I happened to recently reread this article of mine from 2010, and I absolutely love it. I don’t think it’s been read by many people—it was published as one of three discussions of an article by Brad Efron in Statistical Science—so I wanted to share it with you again here. This is the article where […]

Genius is not enough: The sad story of Peter Hagelstein, living monument to the sunk-cost fallacy

I sometimes pick up various old collections that will be suitable for bathroom reading, and so it was that the other day I was sitting on the throne reading the summer 1985 issue of Granta, entitled Science. Lots of great stuff here, including Oliver Sacks on Tourette’s syndrome, Thomas McMahan on Alexander Graham Bell, and […]

You may not be interested in peer review, but peer review is interested in you

Here’s an ironic juxtaposition from Tyler Cowen’s blog. On 28 Apr he discusses a paper with a market system for improving peer review and concludes, “Interesting, but the main problem with the idea is simply that no one cares.” The day before, his assorted links featured “Frequency of Sex Shapes Automatic, but Not Explicit, Partner […]

research-lies-allegations-windpipe update

Paul Alper writes: Found this today in the Washington Post. Recall that at my suggestion you blogged about this affair previously: Damn windpipe surgeons, always causing trouble.

Participate in this cool experiment about online privacy

Sharad Goel writes: We just launched an experiment about online privacy, and I was wondering if you could post this on your blog. In a nutshell, people upload their browsing history, which we then fingerprint and compare to the profiles of 100s of millions of Twitter users to find a match. Browsing history is something […]

Publication bias occurs within as well as between projects

Kent Holsinger points to this post by Kevin Drum entitled, “Publication Bias Is Boring. You Should Care About It Anyway,” and writes: I am an evolutionary biologist, not a psychologist, but this article describes a disturbing Scenario concerning oxytocin research that seems plausible. It is also relevant to the reproducibility/publishing issues you have been discussing […]

Things that sound good but aren’t quite right: Art and research edition

There are a lot of things you can say that sound very sensible but, upon reflection, are missing something. For example consider this blog comment from Chris G: Years ago I heard someone suggest these three questions for assessing a work of art: 1. What was the artist attempting to do? 2. Were they successful? […]

An ethnographic study of the “open evidential culture” of research psychology

Claude Fischer points me to this paper by David Peterson, “The Baby Factory: Difficult Research Objects, Disciplinary Standards, and the Production of Statistical Significance,” which begins: Science studies scholars have shown that the management of natural complexity in lab settings is accomplished through a mixture of technological standardization and tacit knowledge by lab workers. Yet […]

Tax Day: The Birthday Dog That Didn’t Bark

Following up on Valentine’s Day and April Fools, a journalist was asking about April 15: Are there fewer babies born on Tax Day than on neighboring days? Let’s go to the data: These are data from 1968-1988 so it would certainly be interesting to see new data, but here’s what we got: – April 1st […]

Science reporters are getting the picture

Enrico Schaar points me to two news articles: What psychology’s crisis means for the future of science by Brian Resnick and These doctors want to fix a huge problem with drug trials. Why isn’t anyone listening? by Julia Belluz. I don’t really have anything to add here beyond what I’ve blogged on these topics before. […]

“What can recent replication failures tell us about the theoretical commitments of psychology?”

Psychology/philosophy professor Stan Klein was motivated by our power pose discussion to send along this article which seems to me to be a worthy entry in what I’ve lately been calling “the literature of exasperation,” following in the tradition of Meehl etc. I offer one minor correction. Klein writes, “I have no doubt that the […]

In policing (and elsewhere), regional variation in behavior can be huge, and perhaps give a clue about how to move forward.

Rajiv Sethi points to a discussion of Peter Moskos on the recent controversy over racial bias in police shootings. Here’s Sethi: Moskos is not arguing here that the police can do no wrong; he is arguing instead that in the aggregate, whites and blacks are about equally likely to be victims of bad shootings. . […]

Even social scientists can think like pundits, unfortunately

I regularly read the Orgtheory blog which has interesting perspectives from sociologists. Today I saw this, from Sean Safford: I [Safford] actually hold to the idea that the winning candidate for President is always the one who has a clearer view of the challenges and opportunities facing the country and articulates a viable roadmap for […]