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Archive of posts filed under the Sociology category.

Publication bias occurs within as well as between projects

Kent Holsinger points to this post by Kevin Drum entitled, “Publication Bias Is Boring. You Should Care About It Anyway,” and writes: I am an evolutionary biologist, not a psychologist, but this article describes a disturbing Scenario concerning oxytocin research that seems plausible. It is also relevant to the reproducibility/publishing issues you have been discussing […]

Things that sound good but aren’t quite right: Art and research edition

There are a lot of things you can say that sound very sensible but, upon reflection, are missing something. For example consider this blog comment from Chris G: Years ago I heard someone suggest these three questions for assessing a work of art: 1. What was the artist attempting to do? 2. Were they successful? […]

An ethnographic study of the “open evidential culture” of research psychology

Claude Fischer points me to this paper by David Peterson, “The Baby Factory: Difficult Research Objects, Disciplinary Standards, and the Production of Statistical Significance,” which begins: Science studies scholars have shown that the management of natural complexity in lab settings is accomplished through a mixture of technological standardization and tacit knowledge by lab workers. Yet […]

Tax Day: The Birthday Dog That Didn’t Bark

Following up on Valentine’s Day and April Fools, a journalist was asking about April 15: Are there fewer babies born on Tax Day than on neighboring days? Let’s go to the data: These are data from 1968-1988 so it would certainly be interesting to see new data, but here’s what we got: – April 1st […]

Science reporters are getting the picture

Enrico Schaar points me to two news articles: What psychology’s crisis means for the future of science by Brian Resnick and These doctors want to fix a huge problem with drug trials. Why isn’t anyone listening? by Julia Belluz. I don’t really have anything to add here beyond what I’ve blogged on these topics before. […]

“What can recent replication failures tell us about the theoretical commitments of psychology?”

Psychology/philosophy professor Stan Klein was motivated by our power pose discussion to send along this article which seems to me to be a worthy entry in what I’ve lately been calling “the literature of exasperation,” following in the tradition of Meehl etc. I offer one minor correction. Klein writes, “I have no doubt that the […]

In policing (and elsewhere), regional variation in behavior can be huge, and perhaps give a clue about how to move forward.

Rajiv Sethi points to a discussion of Peter Moskos on the recent controversy over racial bias in police shootings. Here’s Sethi: Moskos is not arguing here that the police can do no wrong; he is arguing instead that in the aggregate, whites and blacks are about equally likely to be victims of bad shootings. . […]

Even social scientists can think like pundits, unfortunately

I regularly read the Orgtheory blog which has interesting perspectives from sociologists. Today I saw this, from Sean Safford: I [Safford] actually hold to the idea that the winning candidate for President is always the one who has a clearer view of the challenges and opportunities facing the country and articulates a viable roadmap for […]

What makes a mathematical formula beautiful?

Hiro Minato pointed me to this paper (hyped here) by Semir Zeki, John Romaya, Dionigi Benincasa, and Michael Atiyah on “The experience of mathematical beauty and its neural correlates,” who report: We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to image the activity in the brains of 15 mathematicians when they viewed mathematical formulae which they […]

More evidence that even top researchers routinely misinterpret p-values

Blake McShane writes: I wanted to write to you about something related to your ongoing posts on replication in psychology as well as your recent post the ASA statement on p-values. In addition to the many problems you and others have documented with the p-value as a measure of evidence (both those computed “honestly” and […]

Ioannidis: “Evidence-Based Medicine Has Been Hijacked”

The celebrated medical-research reformer has a new paper (sent to me by Keith O’Rourke; official published version here), where he writes: As EBM [evidence-based medicine] became more influential, it was also hijacked to serve agendas different from what it originally aimed for. Influential randomized trials are largely done by and for the benefit of the […]

You can post social science papers on the new SocArxiv

I learned about it from this post by Elizabeth Popp Berman. The temporary SocArxiv site is here. It is connected to the Open Science Framework, which we’ve heard a lot about in discussions of preregistration. You can post your papers at SocArxiv right away following these easy steps: Send an email to the following address(es) […]

Bigmilk strikes again

“I would like to share some sad stories from economics related to these issues”

Per Pettersson-Lidbom from the Department of Economics at Stockholm University writes: I have followed your discussions about replication, criticism, and the self-correcting process of science. I would like to share some sad stories from economics related to these issues. It is the stories about three papers published in highly respected journals, i.e., the study by […]

“Positive Results Are Better for Your Career”

Brad Stiritz writes: I thought you might enjoy reading the following Der Spiegel interview with Peter Wilmshurst. Talk about fighting the good fight! He took the path of greatest resistance, and he beat what I presume are pretty stiff odds. Then the company representatives asked me to leave some of the patients out of the […]

Broken broken windows policy?

A journalist pointed me to this recent report from the New York City Department of Investigation, which begins: Between 2010 and 2015, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) issued 1,839,414 “quality-of-life” summonses for offenses such as public urination, disorderly conduct, drinking alcohol in public, and possession of small amounts of marijuana. . . . […]

When are people gonna realize their studies are dead on arrival?

A comment at Thomas Lumley’s blog pointed me to this discussion by Terry Burnham with an interesting story of some flashy psychology research that failed to replicate. Here’s Burnham: [In his popular book, psychologist Daniel] Kahneman discussed an intriguing finding that people score higher on a test if the questions are hard to read. The […]

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 […]