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Archive of posts filed under the Sociology category.

Click here to find out how these 2 top researchers hyped their work in a NYT op-ed!

Gur Huberman pointed me to this NYT op-ed entitled “Would You Go to a Republican Doctor?”, written by two professors describing their own research, that begins as follows: Suppose you need to see a dermatologist. Your friend recommends a doctor, explaining that “she trained at the best hospital in the country and is regarded as […]

The Manager’s Path (book recommendation for new managers)

I (Bob) was visiting Matt Hoffman (of NUTS fame) at Google in California a few weeks ago, and he recommended the following book: Camille Fournier. 2017. The Manager’s Path. O’Reilly. It’s ordered from being an employee, to being a tech lead, to managing a small team, to managing teams of teams, and I stopped there. […]

How to think about research, and research criticism, and research criticism criticism, and research criticism criticism criticism?

Some people pointed me to this article, “Issues with data and analyses: Errors, underlying themes, and potential solutions,” by Andrew Brown, Kathryn Kaiser, and David Allison. They discuss “why focusing on errors [in science] is important,” “underlying themes of errors and their contributing factors, “the prevalence and consequences of errors,” and “how to improve conditions […]

No, there is no epidemic of loneliness. (Or, Dog Bites Man: David Brooks runs another column based on fake stats)

[adorable image] Remember David Brooks? The NYT columnist, NPR darling, and former reporter who couldn’t correctly report the price of a meal at Red Lobster? The guy who got it wrong about where billionaires come from and who thought it was fun to use one of his columns to make fun of a urologist (ha […]

“Eureka bias”: When you think you made a discovery and then you don’t want to give it up, even if it turns out you interpreted your data wrong

This came in the email one day: I am writing to you with my own (very) small story of error-checking a published finding. If you end up posting any of this, please remove my name! A few years ago, a well-read business journal published an article by a senior-level employee at my company. One of […]

Does “status threat” explain the 2016 presidential vote?

Steve Morgan writes: The April 2018 article of Diana Mutz, Status Threat, Not Economic Hardship, Explains the 2016 Presidential Vote, was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and contradicts prior sociological research on the 2016 election. Mutz’s article received widespread media coverage because of the strength of its primary conclusion, declaimed […]

Evaluating Sigmund Freud: Should we compare him to biologists or economists?

This post is about how we should think about Freud, not about how we should think about biology or economics. So. There’s this whole thing about Sigmund Freud being a bad scientist. Or maybe I should say a bad person and a terrible scientist. The “bad person” thing isn’t so relevant, but the “terrible scientist” […]

What killed alchemy?

Here’s the answer according to David Wootton’s 2015 book, “The invention of science: a new history of the scientific revolution” (sent to me by Javier Benitez): What killed alchemy was the insistence that experiments must be openly reported in publications which presented a clear account of what had happened, and they must then be replicated, […]

Why is the replication crisis centered on social psychology?

We had a post on this a couple years ago, but the topic came up again, and here are my latest thoughts. Psychology has several features that contribute to the replication crisis: – Psychology is a relatively open and uncompetitive field (compared for example to biology). Many researchers will share their data. – Psychology is […]

A model for scientific research programmes that include both “exploratory phenomenon-driven research” and “theory-testing science”

John Christie points us to an article by Klaus Fiedler, What Constitutes Strong Psychological Science? The (Neglected) Role of Diagnosticity and A Priori Theorizing, which begins: A Bayesian perspective on Ioannidis’s (2005) memorable statement that “Most Published Research Findings Are False” suggests a seemingly inescapable trade-off: It appears as if research hypotheses are based either […]

A quick rule of thumb is that when someone seems to be acting like a jerk, an economist will defend the behavior as being the essence of morality, but when someone seems to be doing something nice, an economist will raise the bar and argue that he’s not being nice at all.

Like Pee Wee Herman, act like a jerk And get on the dance floor let your body work I wanted to follow up on a remark from a few years ago about the two modes of pop-economics reasoning: You take some fact (or stylized fact) about the world, and then you either (1) use people-are-rational-and-who-are-we-to-judge-others […]

Proposed new EPA rules requiring open data and reproducibility

Tom Daula points to this news article by Heidi Vogt, “EPA Wants New Rules to Rely Solely on Public Data,” with subtitle, “Agency says proposal means transparency; scientists see public-health risk.” Vogt writes: The Environmental Protection Agency plans to restrict research used in developing regulations, the agency said Tuesday . . . The new proposal […]

There’s nothing embarrassing about self-citation

Someone sent me an email writing that one of my papers “has an embarrassing amount of self-citation.” I’m sorry that this person is embarrassed on my behalf. I’m not embarrassed at all. If I wrote something in the past that’s relevant, it makes sense to cite it rather than repeating myself, no? A citation is […]

What is “blogging”? Is it different from “writing”?

Thomas Basbøll wrote: To blog is not to write in a particular style, or publish in a particular form. Rather, blogging is an experience that is structured by a particular functionality. . . . What makes it a blog is a structural coordination of the blogger and the audience. . . . Blogging, in my […]

Taking perspective on perspective taking

Gabor Simonovits writes: I thought you might be interested in this paper with Gabor Kezdi of U Michigan and Peter Kardos of Bloomfield College, about an online intervention reducing anti-Roma prejudice and far-right voting in Hungary through a role-playing game. The paper is similar to some existing social psychology studies on perspective taking but we […]

“Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age”

Our longtime collaborator Matt Salganik sent me a copy of his new textbook, “Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age.” I really like the division into Observing Behavior, Asking Questions, Running Experiments, and Mass Collaboration (I’d remove the word “Creating” from the title of that section). It seemed awkward for Ethics to be […]

Tools for detecting junk science? Transparency is the key.

In an article to appear in the journal Child Development, “Distinguishing polemic from commentary in science,” physicist David Grimes and psychologist Dorothy Bishop write: Exposure to nonionizing radiation used in wireless communication remains a contentious topic in the public mind—while the overwhelming scientific evidence to date suggests that microwave and radio frequencies used in modern […]

A possible defense of cargo cult science?

Someone writes: I’ve been a follower of your blog and your continual coverage of “cargo cult science”. Since this type of science tends to be more influential and common than the (idealized) non-“cargo cult” stuff, I’ve been trying to find ways of reassuring myself that this type of science isn’t a bad thing (because if […]

The all-important distinction between truth and evidence

Yesterday we discussed a sad but all-too-familiar story of a little research project that got published and hyped beyond recognition. The published paper was called, “The more you play, the more aggressive you become: A long-term experimental study of cumulative violent video game effects on hostile expectations and aggressive behavior,” but actually that title was […]

More bad news in the scientific literature: A 3-day study is called “long term,” and nobody even seems to notice the problem. Whassup with that??

Someone pointed me to this article, “The more you play, the more aggressive you become: A long-term experimental study of cumulative violent video game effects on hostile expectations and aggressive behavior,” by Youssef Hasan, Laurent Bègue, Michael Scharkow, and Brad Bushman. My correspondent was suspicious of the error bars in Figure 1. I actually think […]