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Archive of posts filed under the Sociology category.

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Under the heading, “Why that Evolution paper should never have been retracted: A reviewer speaks out,” biologist Ben Ashby writes: The problems of post-publication peer review have already been highlighted elsewhere, and it certainly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:

I was wrong

A few years ago I noted a report of a new journal with a title that, to my amusement, seemed to reflect a Rat-Pack-era sensibility. I wrote: Coase and Wang’s new journal might be great, but I bet it won’t be called “Man and the Economy.” But, as the image above shows, I was wrong.

Replication crisis crisis: Why I continue in my “pessimistic conclusions about reproducibility”

A couple days we again discussed the replication crisis in psychology—the problem that all sorts of ridiculous studies on topics such as political moderation and shades of gray, or power pose, or fat arms and political attitudes, or ovulation and vote preference, or ovulation and clothing, or beauty and sex ratios, or elderly-related words and […]

Creationist article Article with creationist language published in Plos-One

Dan Gianola pointed me to this one. It’s an article by Ming-Jin Liu, Cai-Hua Xiong, Le Xiong, and Xiao-Lin Huang with the innocuous title, “Biomechanical Characteristics of Hand Coordination in Grasping Activities of Daily Living,” and a boring abstract: Hand coordination can allow humans to have dexterous control with many degrees of freedom to perform […]

What parts of the country are most religious?

I saw this from Tyler Cowen: The middle part of America is more religious than the South. And I was like, Huh? So I followed the link which in turn linked to this article by J. D. Vance which said: When Gallup ranked every U.S. state by its religiosity, states in the South took nine […]

No, this post is not 30 days early: Psychological Science backs away from null hypothesis significance testing

A few people pointed me to this editorial by D. Stephen Lindsay, the new editor of Psychological Science, a journal that in recent years has been notorious for publishing (and, even more notoriously, promoting) click-bait unreplicable dead-on-arrival noise-mining tea-leaf-reading research papers. It was getting so bad for awhile that they’d be publishing multiple such studies […]

Fitting the birthday model in Stan

I’m scheduling these posts a few months ahead of time, and I realize this is the perfect date for an update on the birthday model. Can we fit in Stan yet? As of this writing, I don’t know. But Aki and Seth assure me that we’re close . . . P.S. Happy 13th birthday, Craig!

Stan does Valentine’s

Today’s story starts with a bit of statistically-related fluff, a news report from Emily Crockett entitled, “Here’s how much people in your state spend on Valentine’s Day gifts”: A survey by asked 3,121 Americans how much they spend on Valentine’s Day gifts for their loved ones, and figured out which US states spend the […]

Too big to fail: Why it’s unrealistic to expect scientific journals to retract their huge backlog of erroneous papers

I couple years ago I wrote an article, “It’s too hard to publish criticisms and obtain data for replication.” I gave two examples demonstrating the struggles of myself and others to get journals to admit errors. The problem is that the standards for post-publication review are higher than for pre-publication review. You can find an […]