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Archive of posts filed under the Zombies category.

Should this paper in Psychological Science be retracted? The data do not conclusively demonstrate the claim, nor do they provide strong evidence in favor. The data are, however, consistent with the claim (as well as being consistent with no effect)

Retractions or corrections of published papers are rare. We routinely encounter articles with fatal flaws, but it is so rare that such articles are retracted that it’s news when it happens. Retractions sometimes happen at the request of the author (as in the link above, or in my own two retracted/corrected articles) and other times […]

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 […]

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 […]

Difficulty of communication in our supersaturated media environment

Gregory Gelembiuk writes: I was wondering if you might take a look at this and, if so inclined, do some public shredding. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6mLpCEIGEYGYl9RZWFRcmpsZk0/view?pref=2&pli=1 http://www.snopes.com/stanford-study-proves-election-fraud-through-exit-poll-discrepancies/ http://www.boomantribune.com/story/2016/6/13/11420/5989 Claims of electoral fraud have become increasingly popular among political progressives in the last several years and, unfortunately, appear to be gaining critical mass (especially with Sanders’ loss). The “study” […]

“Smaller Share of Women Ages 65 and Older Are Living Alone,” before and after age adjusment

After noticing this from a recent Pew Research report: Ben Hanowell wrote: This made me [Hanowell] think of your critique of Case and Deaton’s finding about non-Hispanic mortality. I wonder how much these results are driven by the fact that the population of adults aged 65 and older has gotten older with increasing lifespans, etc […]

No, I’m not convinced by this one either.

Alex Gamma sends along a recently published article by Carola Salvi, Irene Cristofori, Jordan Grafman, and Mark Beeman, along with the note: This might be of interest to you, since it’s political science and smells bad. From The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology: Two groups of 22 college students each identified as conservatives or liberals […]

Researchers demonstrate new breakthrough in public relations, promoting a study before it appears in Psychological Science or PPNAS

Ivan Oransky pointed me to this press release: Study finds honesty varies significantly between countries Research from the University of East Anglia (UEA) has found that people’s honesty varies significantly between countries. It also suggests that honesty is less important to a country’s current economic growth than during earlier periods in history. The study examined […]

“The Natural Selection of Bad Science”

That’s the title of a new paper by Paul Smaldino and Richard McElreath which presents a sort of agent-based model that reproduces the growth in the publication of junk science that we’ve seen in recent decades. Even before looking at this paper I was positively disposed toward it for two reasons. First because I do […]

The “power pose” of the 6th century B.C.

From Selected Topics in the History of Mathematics by Aaron Strauss (1973): Today Pythagoras is known predominantly as a mathematician. However, in his own day and age (which was also the day and age of Buddha, Lao-Tsa, and Confucious), he was looked upon as the personification of the highest divine wisdom by his followers to […]

The difference between “significant” and “not significant” is not itself statistically significant: Education edition

In a news article entitled “Why smart kids shouldn’t use laptops in class,” Jeff Guo writes: For the past 15 years, educators have debated, exhaustively, the perils of laptops in the lecture hall. . . . Now there is an answer, thanks to a big, new experiment from economists at West Point, who randomly banned […]

Annals of really pitiful spammers

Here it is: On May 18, 2016, at 8:38 AM, ** wrote: Dr. Gelman, I hope all is well. I looked at your paper on [COMPANY] and would be very interested in talking about having a short followup or a review article about this published in the next issue of the Medical Research Archives. It […]

Albedo-boy is back!

New story here. Background here and here.

Now that’s what I call a power pose!

John writes: See below for your humour file or blogging on a quiet day. . . . Perhaps you could start a competition for the wackiest real-life mangling of statistical concepts (restricted to a genuine academic setting?). On 15 Feb 2016, at 5:25 PM, [****] wrote: Pick of the bunch from tomorrow’s pile of applications […]

Is fraac Scott Adams?

tl;dr: If you value your time, don’t read this post.

Peer review abuse flashback

Our recent discussion of the problems with peer review reminded me of this amusing/horrifying story from a few years ago, when some researchers noticed a data coding error in a published paper Once it was noticed, the error was obvious: But the authors of the original paper had that never-back-down attitude. So instead of thanking […]

Happy talk, meet the Edlin factor

Mark Palko points us to this op-ed in which psychiatrist Richard Friedman writes: There are also easy and powerful ways to enhance learning in young people. For example, there is intriguing evidence that the attitude that young people have about their own intelligence — and what their teachers believe — can have a big impact […]

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 […]

I’m really getting tired of this sort of thing, and I don’t feel like scheduling it for September, so I’ll post it at 1 in the morning

Bummer! NPR bites on air rage study.

OK, here’s the story. A couple days ago, regarding the now-notorious PPNAS article, “Physical and situational inequality on airplanes predicts air rage,” I wrote: NPR will love this paper. It directly targets their demographic of people who are rich enough to fly a lot but not rich enough to fly first class, and who think […]