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Archive of posts filed under the Sociology category.

An inundation of significance tests

Jan Vanhove writes: The last three research papers I’ve read contained 51, 49 and 70 significance tests (counting conservatively), and to the extent that I’m able to see the forest for the trees, mostly poorly motivated ones. I wonder what the motivation behind this deluge of tests is. Is it wanton obfuscation (seems unlikely), a […]

Chess + statistics + plagiarism, again!

In response to this post (in which I noted that the Elo chess rating system is a static model which, paradoxically, is used to for the purposes of studying changes), Keith Knight writes: It’s notable that Glickman’s work is related to some research by Harry Joe at UBC, which in turn was inspired by data […]

Creativity is the ability to see relationships where none exist

Brent Goldfarb and Andrew King, in a paper to appear in the journal Strategic Management, write: In a recent issue of this journal, Bettis (2012) reports a conversation with a graduate student who forthrightly announced that he had been trained by faculty to “search for asterisks”. The student explained that he sifted through large databases […]

I actually think this infographic is ok

Under the heading, “bad charts,” Mark Duckenfield links to this display by Quoctrung Bui and writes: So much to go with here, but I [Duckenfield] would just highlight the bars as the most egregious problem as it is implied that the same number of people are in each category. Obviously that is not the case […]

Collaborative filtering, hierarchical modeling, and . . . speed dating

Jonah Sinick posted a few things on the famous speed-dating dataset and writes: The main element that I seem to have been missing is principal component analysis of the different rating types. The basic situation is that the first PC is something that people are roughly equally responsive to, while people vary a lot with […]

Social networks spread disease—but they also spread practices that reduce disease

I recently posted on the sister blog regarding a paper by Jon Zelner, James Trostle, Jason Goldstick, William Cevallos, James House, and Joseph Eisenberg, “Social Connectedness and Disease Transmission: Social Organization, Cohesion, Village Context, and Infection Risk in Rural Ecuador.” Zelner follows up: This made me think of my favorite figure from this paper, which […]

What I got wrong (and right) about econometrics and unbiasedness

Yesterday I spoke at the Princeton economics department. The title of my talk was: “Unbiasedness”: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. The talk went all right—people seemed ok with what I was saying—but I didn’t see a lot of audience involvement. It was a bit […]

In criticism of criticism of criticism

I do a lot of criticism. I’m sure you can think of lots of things that I like to criticize, but to keep things simple, let’s focus on graphics criticism, for example this post where I criticized a graph for false parallelism. At this point some people would say that graphics criticism is mean, and […]

Inventor of Arxiv speaks at Columbia this Tues 4pm

Paul Ginsparg, professor of physics at Cornell University and inventor of Arxiv, is speaking Tuesday 5 May, 4pm in CEPSR 750. Here’s the abstract: I [Ginsparg] will give a very brief sociological overview of the current metastable state of scholarly research communication, and then a technical discussion of the practical implications of literature and usage […]

There are 6 ways to get rejected from PLOS: (1) theft, (2) sexual harassment, (3) running an experiment without a control group, (4) keeping a gambling addict away from the casino, (5) chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, and (6) having no male co-authors

This story is pretty horrifying/funny. But the strangest thing was this part: [The author] and her colleague have appealed to the unnamed journal, which belongs to the PLoS family . . . I thought PLOS published just about everything! This is not a slam on PLOS. Arxiv publishes everything too, and Arxiv is great. The […]

What’s the most important thing in statistics that’s not in the textbooks?

As I wrote a couple years ago: Statistics does not require randomness. The three essential elements of statistics are measurement, comparison, and variation. Randomness is one way to supply variation, and it’s one way to model variation, but it’s not necessary. Nor is it necessary to have “true” randomness (of the dice-throwing or urn-sampling variety) […]

Political Attitudes in Social Environments

Jose Duarte, Jarret Crawford, Charlotta Stern, Jonathan Haidt, Lee Jussim, and Philip Tetlock wrote an article, “Political Diversity Will Improve Social Psychological Science,” in which the argued that the field of social psychology would benefit from the inclusion of more non-liberal voices (here I’m using “liberal” in the sense of current U.S. politics). Duarte et […]

How do data and experiments fit into a scientific research program?

I was talking with someone today about various “dead on arrival” research programs we’ve been discussing here for the past few years: I’m talking about topics such beauty and sex ratios of children, or ovulation and voting, or ESP—all of which possibly represent real phenomena and could possibly be studied in a productive way, just […]

Gigerenzer on logical rationality vs. ecological rationality

I sent my post about the political implication of behavioral economics, embodied cognition, etc., to Gerd Gigerenzer, who commented as follows: The “half-empty” versus “half-full” explanation of the differences between Kahneman and us misses the essential point: the difference is about the nature of the glass of rationality, not the level of the water. For […]

“For better or for worse, academics are fascinated by academic rankings . . .”

I was asked to comment on a forthcoming article, “Statistical Modeling of Citation Exchange Among Statistics Journals,” by Christiano Varin, Manuela Cattelan and David Firth. Here’s what I wrote: For better or for worse, academics are fascinated by academic rankings, perhaps because most of us reached our present positions through a series of tournaments, starting […]

Another stylized fact bites the dust

According to economist Henry Farber (link from Dan Goldstein): In a seminal paper, Camerer, Babcock, Loewenstein, and Thaler (1997) find that the wage elasticity of daily hours of work New York City (NYC) taxi drivers is negative and conclude that their labor supply behavior is consistent with target earning (having reference dependent preferences). I replicate […]

But when you call me Bayesian, I know I’m not the only one

Textbooks on statistics emphasize care and precision, via concepts such as reliability and validity in measurement, random sampling and treatment assignment in data collection, and causal identification and bias in estimation. But how do researchers decide what to believe and what to trust when choosing which statistical methods to use? How do they decide the […]

This is why I’m a political scientist and not a psychologist

I can understand how people can hold all sorts of wacked-out political views (after all, in the past, people have supported ideas as crazy as abolitionism, polygamy, monarchy, and the nationalization of the means of production), but certain things in psychology just continue to baffle me, even though I know they’re true. The most recent […]

“Thinking about the possibility of spurious correlation isn’t a matter of liking—it should be pretty much automatic.”

I agree with sociologist David Weakliem when he writes the above sentence. Here’s the full paragraph: Krugman says, “you can, if you like, try to argue that this relationship is spurious, maybe not causal.” Actually, I [Weakliem] liked his original figure, since I agree with Krugman on economic policy. But thinking about the possibility of […]

Paul Meehl continues to be the boss

Lee Sechrest writes: Here is a remarkable paper, not well known, by Paul Meehl. My research group is about to undertake a fresh discussion of it, which we do about every five or ten years. The paper is now more than a quarter of a century old but it is, I think, dramatically pertinent to […]