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Archive of posts filed under the Sociology category.

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 […]

Does adding women to corporate boards increase stock price?

Anton Kasster writes:

Yet another IRB horror story

The IRB (institutional review board) is this weird bureaucracy, often staffed by helpful and well-meaning people but generally out of control, as it operates on an if-it’s-not-allowed-it’s-forbidden principle. As an example, Jonathan Falk points us to this Kafkaesque story from Scott Alexander, which ends up like this: Faced with submitting twenty-seven new pieces of paperwork […]

Spatial patterns in crime: Where’s he gonna strike next?

Wouter Steenbeek writes: I am a criminologist and mostly do spatial analyses of crime patterns: where does crime occur and why in these neighborhoods / at these locations, and so on. Currently, I am thinking about offender decision-making behavior, specifically his ‘location choice’ of where to offend. Hey, how about criminologists instead of looking to […]

Some of the data from the NRA conventions and firearm injuries study

Dave Kane writes: You wrote about the NRA conventions and firearm injuries study here. The lead author, Anupam Jena, kindly provided some of the underlying data and a snippet of the code they used to me. You can see it all here. The data are here. I [Kane] wrote up a brief analysis, R Markdown […]

“It’s not just that the emperor has no clothes, it’s more like the emperor has been standing in the public square for fifteen years screaming, I’m naked! I’m naked! Look at me! And the scientific establishment is like, Wow, what a beautiful outfit.”

Somebody pointed Nick Brown to another paper by notorious eating behavior researcher Brian Wansink. Here’s Brown: I have that one in my collection of PDFs. I see I downloaded it on January 7, 2017, which was 3 days before our preprint went live. Probably I skimmed it and didn’t pay much further attention. I don’t […]

Statistical controversy over “trophy wives”

Aaron Gullickson writes: I thought you might be interested in this comment (of which I am the author) and response (by Elizabeth McClintock) that just came out in ASR. The subject is about whether beauty and status (e.g. education, income) are exchanged on the marriage market. The reason I thought you might be interested is […]

What is not but could be if

And if I can remain there I will say – Baby Dee Obviously this is a blog that love the tabloids. But as we all know, the best stories are the ones that confirm your own prior beliefs (because those must be true).  So I’m focussing on  this article in Science that talks about how STEM […]

A more formal take on the multiverse

You’ve heard of multiverse analysis, which is an attempt to map out the garden of forking paths. Others are interested in this topic too. Carol Nickerson pointed me to this paper by Jan Wacker with a more formal version of the multiverse idea.

Murray Davis on learning from stories

Jay Livingston writes: Your recent post and the linked article on storytelling reminded me of Murray Davis’s article on theory, which has some of the same themes. I haven’t reread it in a long time, so my memory of the details is hazy. Here are the first two paragraphs, which might give you an idea […]

“and, indeed, that my study is consistent with X having a negative effect on Y.”

David Allison shares this article: Pediatrics: letter to the editor – Metformin for Obesity in Prepubertal and Pubertal Children A Randomized Controlled Trial and the authors’ reply: RE: Clarification of statistical interpretation in metformin trial paper The authors of the original paper were polite in their response, but they didn’t seem to get the point […]

“Like a harbor clotted with sunken vessels”

After writing this post on an error in one of my published papers, I got to thinking about the general problem of mistakes in the scientific literature. Retraction is not a serious solution to the problem. And there are lots of people out there who simply refuse to admit, let alone correct, their published errors: […]

“If I wanted to graduate in three years, I’d just get a sociology degree.”

From an interview with a UCLA QB who’s majoring in economics: Look, football and school don’t go together. They just don’t. Trying to do both is like trying to do two full-time jobs. . . . No one in their right mind should have a football player’s schedule, and go to school. It’s not that […]