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Archive of posts filed under the Sociology category.

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 […]

The way we social science now

This is a fun story. Jeff pointed me to a post on the sister blog by Christopher Hare and Robert Lupton, entitled “No, Sanders voters aren’t more conservative than Clinton voters. Here’s the data.” My reaction: “Who would ever think that Sanders supporters are more conservative than Clinton supporters? That’s counterintuitivism gone amok.” It turned […]

“Replication initiatives will not salvage the trustworthiness of psychology”

So says James Coyne, going full Meehl. I agree. Replication is great, but if you replicate noise studies, you’ll just get noise, hence the beneficial effects on science are (a) to reduce confidence in silly studies that we mostly shouldn’t have taken seriously in the first place, and (b) to provide an disincentive for future […]

Who marries whom?

Elizabeth Heyman points us to this display by Adam Pearce and Dorothy Gambrell who write, “We scanned data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2014 American Community Survey—which covers 3.5 million households—to find out how people are pairing up.” They continue: For any selected occupation, the chart highlights the five most common occupation/relationship matchups. (For example, […]

Will transparency damage science?

Jonathan Sterne sent me this opinion piece by Stephan Lewandowsky and Dorothy Bishop, two psychology researchers who express concern that the movement for science and data transparency has been abused. It would be easy for me to dismiss them and take a hard-line pro-transparency position—and I do take a hard-line pro-transparency position—but, as they remind […]

Bias against women in academia

I’m not the best one to write about this: to the extent that there’s bias in favor of men, I’ve been a beneficiary. Also I’m not familiar with the research on the topic. I know there are some statistical difficulties in setting up these causal questions, comparable to the difficulties arising in using “hedonic regression” […]

Birthday analysis—Friday the 13th update, and some model checking

Carl Bialik and Andrew Flowers at fivethirtyeight.com (Nate Silver’s site) ran a story following up on our birthdays example—that time series decomposition of births by day, which is on the cover of the third edition of Bayesian Data Analysis using data from 1968-1988, and which then Aki redid using a new dataset from 2000-2014. Friday […]

Peer review abuse flashback

Our recent discussion of the problems with peer review reminded me of this amusing/horrifying story from a few years ago, when some researchers noticed a data coding error in a published paper Once it was noticed, the error was obvious: But the authors of the original paper had that never-back-down attitude. So instead of thanking […]

Math on a plane!

Paul Alper pointed me to this news article about an economist who got BUSTED for doing algebra on the plane. This dude was profiled by the lady sitting next to him who got suspicious of his incomprehensible formulas. I feel that way about a lot of econ research too, so I can see where she […]

The Puzzle of Paul Meehl: An intellectual history of research criticism in psychology

There’s nothing wrong with Meehl. He’s great. The puzzle of Paul Meehl is that everything we’re saying now, all this stuff about the problems with Psychological Science and PPNAS and Ted talks and all that, Paul Meehl was saying 50 years ago. And it was no secret. So how is it that all this was […]