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Archive of posts filed under the Sociology category.

Consider seniority of authors when criticizing published work?

Carol Nickerson writes: I’ve written my fair share of letters to the editor and commentaries over the years, most of them languishing in the file drawer. It used to be impossible to get them published. The situation has improved a bit, but not enough. In any case, I never think about the sex of the […]

Giving feedback indirectly by invoking a hypothetical reviewer

Ethan Bolker points us to this discussion on “How can I avoid being “the negative one” when giving feedback on statistics?”, which begins: Results get sent around a group of biological collaborators for feedback. Comments come back from the senior members of the group about the implications of the results, possible extensions, etc. I look […]

“Explaining recent mortality trends among younger and middle-aged White Americans”

Kevin Lewis sends along this paper by Ryan Masters, Andrea Tilstra, and Daniel Simon, who write: Recent research has suggested that increases in mortality among middle-aged US Whites are being driven by suicides and poisonings from alcohol and drug use. Increases in these ‘despair’ deaths have been argued to reflect a cohort-based epidemic of pain […]

Letter to the Editor of Perspectives on Psychological Science

[relevant cat picture] tl;dr: Himmicane in a teacup. Back in the day, the New Yorker magazine did not have a Letters to the Editors column, and so the great Spy magazine (the Gawker of its time) ran its own feature, Letters to the Editor of the New Yorker, where they posted the letters you otherwise […]

It’s not “lying” exactly . . . What do you call it when someone deliberately refuses to correct an untruth?

New York Times columnist Bret Stephens tells the story. First the background: On Thursday I interviewed Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo on a public stage . . . There was one sour moment. Midway through the interview, Pompeo abruptly slammed The New York Times for publishing the name last month of a senior covert […]

Iceland education gene trend kangaroo

Someone who works in genetics writes: You may have seen the recent study in PNAS about genetic prediction of educational attainment in Iceland. the authors report in a very concerned fashion that every generation the attainment of education as predicted from genetics decreases by 0.1 standard deviations. This sounds bad. But consider that the University […]

“The ‘Will & Grace’ Conjecture That Won’t Die” and other stories from the blogroll

From sociologist Jay Livingston: The “Will & Grace” Conjecture That Won’t Die From sociologist David Weakliem: Why does Trump try to implement the unpopular ideas he’s proposed, and not the popular ideas? History professor who wrote award-winning book about 1970-era crime, is misinformed about the history of 1970s-era crime “West Virginia, which was a lock […]

Daryl Bem and Arthur Conan Doyle

Daniel Engber wrote an excellent news article on the replication crisis, offering a historically-informed perspective similar to my take in last year’s post, “What has happened down here is the winds have changed.” The only thing I don’t like about Engber’s article is its title, “Daryl Bem Proved ESP Is Real. Which means science is […]

Why they aren’t behavioral economists: Three sociologists give their take on “mental accounting”

Nina Bandelj, Fred Wherry, and Viviana Zelizer write: Rather than retreat to disciplinary corners, let us begin by affirming our respect for the generative work undertaken across a variety of disciplines. We’re all talking money, so it is helpful to specify what’s similar and what’s different when we do. . . . In this post, […]

“Furthermore, there are forms of research that have reached such a degree of complexity in their experimental methodology that replicative repetition can be difficult.”

[cat picture] Shravan Vasishth writes: The German NSF (DFG) has recently published a position paper on replicability, which contains the following explosive statement (emphasis mine in the quote below). The first part of their defence against replicability is reasonable: some experiments can never be repeated under the same conditions (e.g., volcanic eruptions etc). But if […]

Where’d the $2500 come from?

Brad Buchsbaum writes: Sometimes I read the New York Times “Well” articles on science and health. It’s a mixed bag, sometimes it’s quite good and sometimes not. I came across this yesterday: What’s the Value of Exercise? $2,500 For people still struggling to make time for exercise, a new study offers a strong incentive: You’ll […]

Criminology corner: Type M error might explain Weisburd’s Paradox

[silly cartoon found by googling *cat burglar*] Torbjørn Skardhamar, Mikko Aaltonen, and I wrote this article to appear in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology: Simple calculations seem to show that larger studies should have higher statistical power, but empirical meta-analyses of published work in criminology have found zero or weak correlations between sample size and […]

“Bombshell” statistical evidence for research misconduct, and what to do about it?

Someone pointed me to this post by Nick Brown discussing a recent article by John Carlisle regarding scientific misconduct. Here’s Brown: [Carlisle] claims that he has found statistical evidence that a surprisingly high proportion of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) contain data patterns that cannot have arisen by chance. . . . the implication is that […]

All the things we have to do that we don’t really need to do: The social cost of junk science

I’ve been thinking a lot about junk science lately. Some people have said it’s counterproductive or rude of me to keep talking about the same few examples (actually I think we have about 15 or so examples that come up again and again), so let me just speak generically about the sort of scientific claim […]

The Other Side of the Night

Don Green points us to this quantitative/qualitative meta-analysis he did with Betsy Levy Paluck and Seth Green. The paper begins: This paper evaluates the state of contact hypothesis research from a policy perspective. Building on Pettigrew and Tropp’s (2006) influential meta-analysis, we assemble all intergroup contact studies that feature random assignment and delayed outcome measures, […]

PCI Statistics: A preprint review peer community in statistics

X informs me of a new effort, “Peer community in . . .”, which describes itself as “a free recommendation process of published and unpublished scientific papers.” So far this exists in only one field, Evolutionary Biology. But this looks like a great idea and I expect it will soon exist in statistics, political science, […]

How to think scientifically about scientists’ proposals for fixing science

I wrote this article for a sociology journal: Science is in crisis. Any doubt about this status has surely been been dispelled by the loud assurances to the contrary by various authority figures who are deeply invested in the current system and have written things such as, “Psychology is not in crisis, contrary to popular […]

My review of Duncan Watts’s book, “Everything is Obvious (once you know the answer)”

We had some recent discussion of this book in the comments and so I thought I’d point you to my review from a few years ago. Lots to chew on in the book, and in the review.

“P-hacking” and the intention-to-cheat effect

I’m a big fan of the work of Uri Simonsohn and his collaborators, but I don’t like the term “p-hacking” because it can be taken to imply an intention to cheat. The image of p-hacking is of a researcher trying test after test on the data until reaching the magic “p less than .05.” But, […]

“Everybody Lies” by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz sent me his new book on learning from data. As is just about always the case for this sort of book, I’m a natural reviewer but I’m not really the intended audience. That’s why I gave Dan Ariely’s book to Juli Simon Thomas to review; I thought her perspective would be more relevant […]