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Archive of posts filed under the Sociology category.

One good and one bad response to statistics’ diversity problem

(This is Dan) As conference season rolls into gear, I thought I’d write a short post contrasting some responses by statistical societies to the conversation that the community has been having about harassment of women and minorities at workshops and conferences. ISI: Do what I say, not what I do Let’s look at a different diversity […]

Do women want more children than they end up having?

Abigail Haddad writes: In

A style of argument can be effective in an intellectual backwater but fail in the big leagues—but maybe it’s a good thing to have these different research communities

Following on a post on Tom Wolfe’s evolution-denial trolling, Thanatos Savehn pointed to this obituary, “Jerry A. Fodor, Philosopher Who Plumbed the Mind’s Depths, Dies at 82,” which had lots of interesting items, including this: “We think that what is needed,” they wrote, “is to cut the tree at its roots: to show that Darwin’s […]

We’re putting together a list of big, high profile goals that proved far more challenging than people had anticipated circa 1970

Palko writes: The postwar era (roughly defined here as 1945 to 1970) was a period of such rapid and ubiquitous technological and scientific advances that people naturally assumed that this rate of progress would continue or even accelerate. This led not just futurists like Arthur C Clarke but also researchers in the fields to underestimate […]

The necessity—and the difficulty—of admitting failure in research and clinical practice

Bill Jefferys sends along this excellent newspaper article by Siddhartha Mukherjee, “A failure to heal,” about the necessity—and the difficulty—of admitting failure in research and clinical practice. Mukherjee writes: What happens when a clinical trial fails? This year, the Food and Drug Administration approved some 40 new medicines to treat human illnesses, including 13 for […]

“Peeriodicals”: A new system of virtual journals

Brandon Stell writes: The PubPeer Foundation will soon be launching a new scientific discussion project: “Peeriodicals”. As you will discover by following the link below, Peeriodicals are virtual journals with you as Editor-in-chief. I love this idea, in part because it reminds me of my proposal to replace journals with recommender systems. The only post […]

All Fools in a Circle

A graduate student in psychology writes: Grants do not fund you unless you have pilot data – and moreover – show some statistically significant finding in your N of 20 or 40 – in essence trying to convince the grant reviewers that there is “something there” worth them providing your lab lots of money to […]

Tali Sharot responds to my comments on a recent op-ed

Yesterday I posted some comments on an op-ed by by Tali Sharot and Cass Sunstein. Sharot sent the following response: I wanted to correct a few inaccuracies, which two of your commenters were quick to catch (Jeff and Dale). It seems you have 3 objections 1. “Participants did not learn about others’ opinions. There were […]

Click here to find out how these 2 top researchers hyped their work in a NYT op-ed!

Gur Huberman pointed me to this NYT op-ed entitled “Would You Go to a Republican Doctor?”, written by two professors describing their own research, that begins as follows: Suppose you need to see a dermatologist. Your friend recommends a doctor, explaining that “she trained at the best hospital in the country and is regarded as […]

The Manager’s Path (book recommendation for new managers)

I (Bob) was visiting Matt Hoffman (of NUTS fame) at Google in California a few weeks ago, and he recommended the following book: Camille Fournier. 2017. The Manager’s Path. O’Reilly. It’s ordered from being an employee, to being a tech lead, to managing a small team, to managing teams of teams, and I stopped there. […]

How to think about research, and research criticism, and research criticism criticism, and research criticism criticism criticism?

Some people pointed me to this article, “Issues with data and analyses: Errors, underlying themes, and potential solutions,” by Andrew Brown, Kathryn Kaiser, and David Allison. They discuss “why focusing on errors [in science] is important,” “underlying themes of errors and their contributing factors, “the prevalence and consequences of errors,” and “how to improve conditions […]

No, there is no epidemic of loneliness. (Or, Dog Bites Man: David Brooks runs another column based on fake stats)

[adorable image] Remember David Brooks? The NYT columnist, NPR darling, and former reporter who couldn’t correctly report the price of a meal at Red Lobster? The guy who got it wrong about where billionaires come from and who thought it was fun to use one of his columns to make fun of a urologist (ha […]

“Eureka bias”: When you think you made a discovery and then you don’t want to give it up, even if it turns out you interpreted your data wrong

This came in the email one day: I am writing to you with my own (very) small story of error-checking a published finding. If you end up posting any of this, please remove my name! A few years ago, a well-read business journal published an article by a senior-level employee at my company. One of […]

Does “status threat” explain the 2016 presidential vote?

Steve Morgan writes: The April 2018 article of Diana Mutz, Status Threat, Not Economic Hardship, Explains the 2016 Presidential Vote, was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and contradicts prior sociological research on the 2016 election. Mutz’s article received widespread media coverage because of the strength of its primary conclusion, declaimed […]

Evaluating Sigmund Freud: Should we compare him to biologists or economists?

This post is about how we should think about Freud, not about how we should think about biology or economics. So. There’s this whole thing about Sigmund Freud being a bad scientist. Or maybe I should say a bad person and a terrible scientist. The “bad person” thing isn’t so relevant, but the “terrible scientist” […]

What killed alchemy?

Here’s the answer according to David Wootton’s 2015 book, “The invention of science: a new history of the scientific revolution” (sent to me by Javier Benitez): What killed alchemy was the insistence that experiments must be openly reported in publications which presented a clear account of what had happened, and they must then be replicated, […]

Why is the replication crisis centered on social psychology?

We had a post on this a couple years ago, but the topic came up again, and here are my latest thoughts. Psychology has several features that contribute to the replication crisis: – Psychology is a relatively open and uncompetitive field (compared for example to biology). Many researchers will share their data. – Psychology is […]

A model for scientific research programmes that include both “exploratory phenomenon-driven research” and “theory-testing science”

John Christie points us to an article by Klaus Fiedler, What Constitutes Strong Psychological Science? The (Neglected) Role of Diagnosticity and A Priori Theorizing, which begins: A Bayesian perspective on Ioannidis’s (2005) memorable statement that “Most Published Research Findings Are False” suggests a seemingly inescapable trade-off: It appears as if research hypotheses are based either […]

A quick rule of thumb is that when someone seems to be acting like a jerk, an economist will defend the behavior as being the essence of morality, but when someone seems to be doing something nice, an economist will raise the bar and argue that he’s not being nice at all.

Like Pee Wee Herman, act like a jerk And get on the dance floor let your body work I wanted to follow up on a remark from a few years ago about the two modes of pop-economics reasoning: You take some fact (or stylized fact) about the world, and then you either (1) use people-are-rational-and-who-are-we-to-judge-others […]

Proposed new EPA rules requiring open data and reproducibility

Tom Daula points to this news article by Heidi Vogt, “EPA Wants New Rules to Rely Solely on Public Data,” with subtitle, “Agency says proposal means transparency; scientists see public-health risk.” Vogt writes: The Environmental Protection Agency plans to restrict research used in developing regulations, the agency said Tuesday . . . The new proposal […]