“Explanation” is this thing that social scientists (or people in their everyday lives, acting like social scientists) do, where some event X happens and we supply a coherent story that concludes with X. Sometimes we speak of an event as “overdetermined,” when we can think of many plausible stories that all lead to X. My [...]
Louis Mittel writes: Do you know why David Brooks has such a beef with data? My reply: I have no idea, but I’m happy that we’re now considered the establishment that he has to rebel against!
Given Grandma Mankiw’s hypothetical distaste for Sonia Sotomayor’s spending habits (recall that Grandma “would have been shocked and appalled” by the judge’s lack of savings), I expect she (the grandmother) would be even more irritated by the success of Sotomayor’s recent book: Now that Sotomayor has a ton of money coming in, in addition to [...]
That claim that Harvard admissions discriminate in favor of Jews? After seeing the statistics, I don’t see it.
A few months ago we discussed Ron Unz’s claim that Jews are massively overrepresented in Ivy League college admissions, not just in comparison to the general population of college-age Americans, but even in comparison to other white kids with comparable academic ability and preparation. Most of Unz’s article concerns admissions of Asian-Americans, and he also [...]
I’ll answer the above question after first sharing some background and history on the the philosophy of Bayesian statistics, which appeared at the end of our rejoinder to the discussion to which I linked the other day: When we were beginning our statistical educations, the word ‘Bayesian’ conveyed membership in an obscure cult. Statisticians who [...]
Phil Earnhardt writes: I stumbled across your blog entry after googling on those terms. If I could comment on the closed entry [We had to shut off comments on old blog entries for reasons of spam --- ed.], I’d note: scientific revolutions are fractal; they’re also chaotic in their dynamics. Predictability when a particular scientific [...]
John Tillinghast points us to this blog entry by Hilary Parker. Here’s what she found:
I had a submission a couple years ago that was rejected by a journal. One of the reviewers began with the following snotty aside: In this manuscript Gelman and Shalizi (there’s no anonymity here; this thing has been floating around the web for some time) . . . Actually, we posted it on the same [...]
Joseph Delaney writes: Is it fair to quote the definition of economics from the blurb for a book? If so, consider this definition in the blurb for Emily Oster’s new book: When Oster was expecting her first child, she felt powerless to make the right decisions for her pregnancy. How doctors think and what patients [...]
My Take a Number feature appears in today’s Times. And here are the graphs that I wish they’d had space to include! Original story here.
I have to say, it distorts my internal incentives when I am happy to see really blatant examples of ethical lapses. Sort of like when you’re cleaning the attic and searching for roaches: on one hand, you’d be happy if there were none, but, still, there’s a thrill each time you find a roach and [...]
I don’t believe the paper, “Empirical estimates suggest most published medical research is true.” That is, most published medical research may well be true, but I’m not at all convinced by the analysis being used to support this claim.
David Austin pointed me to this article by Leah Jager and Jeffrey Leek. The title is funny but the article is serious: The accuracy of published medical research is critical both for scientists, physicians and patients who rely on these results. But the fundamental belief in the medical literature was called into serious question by [...]
Theodore Vasiloudis writes: I came upon this article by Laura Hamilton, an assistant professor in the University of California at Merced, that claims that “The more money that parents provide for higher education, the lower the grades their children earn.” I can’t help but feel that there something wrong with the basis of the study [...]
Sharad Goel, Jake Hofman, and Sergei Vassilvitskii are teaching this awesome class on computational social science this semester in the applied math department at Columbia. Here’s the course info. You should take this course. These guys are amazing.
The American Statistical Association has a blog called the Statistics Forum that I edit but haven’t been doing much with. Originally I thought we’d get a bunch of bloggers and have a topic each week or each month and get discussions from lots of perspectives. But it was hard to get people to keep contributing, [...]
Mort Panish writes: I just read your review of Gertner’s book. I agree with most of what you say re Bell labs. I worked in the research area from 1964 to 1992 having arrived in what I regarded as a sort of heaven after 10 years in industrial research elsewhere. For much of that time [...]
Following up on my post responding to his question about that controversial claim that high genetic diversity, or low genetic diversity, is bad for the economy, Kyle Peyton writes: I’m happy to see you’ve articulated similar gripes I had w/ the piece, which makes me feel like I’m not crazy. I remember discussing this with [...]
That controversial claim that high genetic diversity, or low genetic diversity, is bad for the economy
Kyle Peyton writes: I’m passing you this recent news article by Ewen Callaway in the hope that you will make a comment about the methodology on your blog. It’s generated some back and forth between the economics and science communities. I [Peyton] am very sceptical of the reductive approach taken by the economics profession generally, [...]
We had a recent discussion about statistics packages where people talked about the structure and capabilities of different computer languages. One thing I wanted to add to this discussion is some sociology. To me, a statistics package is not just its code, it’s also its community, it’s what people do with it. R, for example, [...]
Andrew Lee writes:
New Year’s Day is an excellent time to look back at changes, not just in the past year, but in the past half-century. Mark Palko has an interesting post on the pace of changes in everyday life. We’ve been hearing a lot in the past few decades about how things are changing faster and faster. [...]
Interesting discussion by Berk Ozler (which I found following links from Tyler Cowen) of a study by Erwin Bulte, Lei Pan, Joseph Hella, Gonne Beekman, and Salvatore di Falco that compares two agricultural experiments, one blinded and one unblinded. Bulte et al. find much different results in the two experiments and attribute the difference to [...]
Solomon Hsiang sends along this from Corinne Moss-Racusin, John Dovidio, Victoria Brescoll, Mark Graham, and Jo Handelsman: Despite efforts to recruit and retain more women, a stark gender disparity persists within academic science. . . . In a randomized double-blind study . . . science faculty from research-intensive universities rated the application materials of a [...]
I get suspicious when I hear unsourced claims that unnamed experts somewhere are making foolish statements. For example, I recently came across this, from a Super Bowl-themed article from 2006 by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt: As it happens, there is one betting strategy that will routinely beat a bookie, and you don’t even have [...]
Four recent news stories about crime and punishment made me realize, yet again, how little I understand all this. 1. “HSBC to Pay $1.92 Billion to Settle Charges of Money Laundering”: State and federal authorities decided against indicting HSBC in a money-laundering case over concerns that criminal charges could jeopardize one of the world’s largest [...]