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Archive of posts filed under the Sociology category.

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 […]

“How the Internet Scooped Science (and What Science Still Has to Offer)”

Brian Silver pointed me to this post from Andrew Lindner: This week, my manuscript, co-authored by Melissa Lindquist and Julie Arnold, “Million Dollar Maybe? The Effect of Female Presence in Movies on Box Office Returns” was published online by Sociological Inquiry. It will appear in print later this year. So far, no surprises. A researcher […]

“In general I think these literatures have too much focus on data analysis and not enough on data collection.”

Mike Zyphur pointed me to an article appearing in Psychological Bulletin with a meta-analysis of ovulatory cycle effects: Title: Do Women’s Mate Preferences Change Across the Ovulatory Cycle? A Meta-Analytic Review Authors: Gildersleeve, K; Haselton, MG; Fales, MR Source: PSYCHOLOGICAL BULLETIN , 140 (5):1205-1259; SEP 2014 Abstract: Scientific interest in whether women experience changes across […]

Defaults, once set, are hard to change.

So. Farewell then Rainbow color scheme. You reigned in Matlab Far too long. But now that You are no longer The default, Will we miss you? We can only Visualize. E. T. Thribb (17 1/2) Here’s the background.  Brad Stiritz writes: I know you’re a creator and big proponent of open-source tools. Given your strong interest […]

Bertrand Russell goes to the IRB

Jonathan Falk points me to this genius idea from Eric Crampton: Here’s a fun one for those of you still based at a university. All of you put together a Human Ethics Review proposal for a field experiment on Human Ethics Review proposals. Here is the proposal within my proposal. Each of you would propose […]

Psych journal bans significance tests; stat blogger inundated with emails

OK, it’s been a busy email day. From Brandon Nakawaki: I know your blog is perpetually backlogged by a few months, but I thought I’d forward this to you in case it hadn’t hit your inbox yet. A journal called Basic and Applied Social Psychology is banning null hypothesis significance testing in favor of descriptive […]

When the evidence is unclear

A few months ago I posted on a paper by Bernard Tanguy et al. on a field experiment in Ethiopia where I couldn’t figure out, from the article, where was the empirical support for the claims being made. This was not the first time I’d had this feeling about a claim made in social science […]