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Archive of posts filed under the Sociology category.

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 (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 […]

PPNAS: How does it happen? And happen? And happen? And happen?

In the comment thread to today’s post on journalists who take PPNAS papers at face value, Mark asked, in response to various flaws pointed out in one of these papers: How can the authors (and the reviewers and the editor) not be aware of something so elementary? My reply: Regarding the authors, see here. Statistics […]

No Retractions, Only Corrections: A manifesto.

Under the heading, “Why that Evolution paper should never have been retracted: A reviewer speaks out,” biologist Ben Ashby writes: The problems of post-publication peer review have already been highlighted elsewhere, and it certainly isn’t rare for a paper to be retracted due to an honest mistake (although most retractions are due to misconduct). Moreover, […]

I owe it all to my Neanderthal genes

Yesterday I posted a methods-focused item at the Monkey Cage, a follow-up of a post from a couple years ago arguing against some dramatic claims by economists Ashraf and Galor regarding the wealth of nations. No big deal, just some standard-issue skepticism. But for some reason this one caught fire—maybe somebody important linked to it, […]

Put your own questions on the General Social Survey!

Tom Smith of the National Opinion Research Center writes: The General Social Survey plans to include some items or short topical modules designed by users in its 2018 survey, and invites users to submit proposals recommending such items or modules. Proposals submitted in response to this call will be included based on assessments of their […]

These Twin Names Match, But Aren’t “Matchy-Matchy”

I love this stuff: Alice/Celia: This subtle anagram yields two charming classics with completely different sounds. Beckett/Marlowe: Two playwrights representing two of the hottest contemporary name styles, double-t names and hidden-o names. Zoe/Eve: These Greek and Hebrew “life” names look similar on paper, but not spoken aloud. Rima/Amir : These mirror-image Arabic name make a […]


Lee Wilkinson writes: In the latest issue of Harvard Magazine (, a letter writer (David W. Pittelli) comments under the section “Social Progress Index”: We are informed by Harvard Magazine (November-December 2015, page 15) that the country with the best “Health and Wellness” (“Do people live long and healthy lives?”) is Peru, while the United […]

These celebrity photos are incredible: Type S errors in use!

Kaveh sends along this, from a recent talk at Berkeley by Katherine Casey: It’s so gratifying to see this sort of thing in common use, only 15 years after Francis and I introduced the idea (and see also this more recent paper with Carlin).

“Rbitrary Standards”

Allen and Michael pointed us on the Stan list to these amusing documents by Oliver Keyes: Rbitrary Standards: “This is an alternate FAQ for R. Specifically, it’s an FAQ that tries to answer all the questions about R’s weird standards, formatting and persnicketiness that you’re afraid to ask.” Parallelism, R, and OpenMP Enjoy.

Bruised and battered, I couldn’t tell what I felt. I was ungeneralizable to myself.

One more rep. The new thing you just have to read, if you’re following the recent back-and-forth on replication in psychology, is this post at Retraction Watch in which Nosek et al. respond to criticisms from Gilbert et al. regarding the famous replication project. Gilbert et al. claimed that many of the replications in the […]

Smiley faces were never seen

Jay Livingston shares a graph from this paper by Shiry Ginosar, Kate Rakelly, Sarah Sachs, Brian Yin, and Alexei Eforos: The graphs summarizes an analysis from a database of high school yearbook photos. Livingston writes: Ginosar et al. have only one explanation for the upward trend – technology. In the early 20th century, they say, […]

The problems with p-values are not just with p-values: My comments on the recent ASA statement

The American Statistical Association just released a committee report on the use of p-values. I was one of the members of the committee but I did not write the report. We were also given the opportunity to add our comments. Here’s what I sent: