Skip to content
Archive of posts filed under the Zombies category.

Also holding back progress are those who make mistakes and then label correct arguments as “nonsensical.”

Here’s James Heckman in 2013: Also holding back progress are those who claim that Perry and ABC are experiments with samples too small to accurately predict widespread impact and return on investment. This is a nonsensical argument. Their relatively small sample sizes actually speak for — not against — the strength of their findings. Dramatic […]

I love when I get these emails!

On Jan 27, 2017, at 12:24 PM, ** wrote: Hi Andrew, I hope you are well. I work for ** and we are looking to chat to someone who knows about Freud – I read that you used to be an expert in Freud? Is that correct? Background here.

“This finding did not reach statistical sig­nificance, but it indicates a 94.6% prob­ability that statins were responsible for the symptoms.”

Charles Jackson writes: The attached item from JAMA, which I came across in my doctor’s waiting room, contains the statements: Nineteen of 203 patients treated with statins and 10 of 217 patients treated with placebo met the study definition of myalgia (9.4% vs 4.6%. P = .054). This finding did not reach statistical sig­nificance, but […]

PPNAS again: If it hadn’t been for the jet lag, would Junior have banged out 756 HRs in his career?

In an email with subject line, “Difference between “significant” and “not significant”: baseball edition?”, Greg Distelhorst writes: I think it’s important to improve statistical practice in the social sciences. I also care about baseball. In this PNAS article, Table 1 and the discussion of differences between east vs. west and home vs. away effects do […]

Letter to the Editor of Perspectives on Psychological Science

[relevant cat picture] tl;dr: Himmicane in a teacup. Back in the day, the New Yorker magazine did not have a Letters to the Editors column, and so the great Spy magazine (the Gawker of its time) ran its own feature, Letters to the Editor of the New Yorker, where they posted the letters you otherwise […]

Delegate at Large

Asher Meir points to this delightful garden of forking paths, which begins: • Politicians on the right look more beautiful in Europe, the U.S. and Australia. • As beautiful people earn more, they are more likely to oppose redistribution. • Voters use beauty as a cue for conservatism in low-information elections. • Politicians on the […]

“Statistics textbooks (including mine) are part of the problem, I think, in that we just set out ‘theta’ as a parameter to be estimated, without much reflection on the meaning of ‘theta’ in the real world.”

Carol Nickerson pointed me to a new article by Arie Kruglanski, Marina Chernikova, Katarzyna Jasko, entitled, “Social psychology circa 2016: A field on steroids.” I wrote: 1. I have no idea what is the meaning of the title of the article. Are they saying that they’re using performance-enhancing drugs? 2. I noticed this from the […]

How does a Nobel-prize-winning economist become a victim of bog-standard selection bias?

Someone who wishes to remain anonymous writes in with a story: Linking to a new paper by Jorge Luis García, James J. Heckman, and Anna L. Ziff, an economist Sue Dynarski makes this “joke” on facebook—or maybe it’s not a joke: How does one adjust standard errors to account for the fact that N of […]

Should we continue not to trust the Turk? Another reminder of the importance of measurement

From 2013: Don’t trust the Turk From 2017 (link from Kevin Lewis), from Jesse Chandler and Gabriele Paolacci: The Internet has enabled recruitment of large samples with specific characteristics. However, when researchers rely on participant self-report to determine eligibility, data quality depends on participant honesty. Across four studies on Amazon Mechanical Turk, we show that […]

Daryl Bem and Arthur Conan Doyle

Daniel Engber wrote an excellent news article on the replication crisis, offering a historically-informed perspective similar to my take in last year’s post, “What has happened down here is the winds have changed.” The only thing I don’t like about Engber’s article is its title, “Daryl Bem Proved ESP Is Real. Which means science is […]

Further criticism of social scientists and journalists jumping to conclusions based on mortality trends

[cat picture] So. We’ve been having some discussion regarding reports of the purported increase in mortality rates among middle-aged white people in America. The news media have mostly spun a simple narrative of struggling working-class whites, but there’s more to the story. Some people have pointed me to some contributions from various sources: In “The […]

Bigshot psychologist, unhappy when his famous finding doesn’t replicate, won’t consider that he might have been wrong; instead he scrambles furiously to preserve his theories

Kimmo Eriksson writes: I am a Swedish math professor turned cultural evolutionist and psychologist (and a fan of your blog). I am currently working on a topic that might interest you (why public opinion moves on some issues but not on others), but that’s for another day. Hey—I’m very interested in why public opinion moves […]

Plan 9 from PPNAS

[cat picture] Asher Meir points to this breathless news article and sends me a message, subject line “Fruit juice leads to 0.003 unit (!) increase in BMI”: “the study results showed that one daily 6- to 8-ounce serving increment of 100% fruit juice was associated with a small .003 unit increase in body mass index […]

Again: Let’s stop talking about published research findings being true or false

Coincidentally, on the same day this post appeared, a couple people pointed me to a news article by Paul Basken entitled, “A New Theory on How Researchers Can Solve the Reproducibility Crisis: Do the Math.” This is not good.

Best correction ever: “Unfortunately, the correct values are impossible to establish, since the raw data could not be retrieved.”

Commenter Erik Arnesen points to this: Several errors and omissions occurred in the reporting of research and data in our paper: “How Descriptive Food Names Bias Sensory Perceptions in Restaurants,” Food Quality and Preference (2005) . . . The dog ate my data. Damn gremlins. I hate when that happens. As the saying goes, “Each […]

After Peptidegate, a proposed new slogan for PPNAS. And, as a bonus, a fun little graphics project.

Someone pointed me to this post by “Neuroskeptic”: A new paper in the prestigious journal PNAS contains a rather glaring blooper. . . . right there in the abstract, which states that “three neuropeptides (β-endorphin, oxytocin, and dopamine) play particularly important roles” in human sociality. But dopamine is not a neuropeptide. Neither are serotonin or […]

Not everyone’s aware of falsificationist Bayes

Stephen Martin writes: Daniel Lakens recently blogged about philosophies of science and how they relate to statistical philosophies. I thought it may be of interest to you. In particular, this statement: From a scientific realism perspective, Bayes Factors or Bayesian posteriors do not provide an answer to the main question of interest, which is the […]

Pizzagate gets even more ridiculous: “Either they did not read their own previous pizza buffet study, or they do not consider it to be part of the literature . . . in the later study they again found the exact opposite, but did not comment on the discrepancy.”

Background Several months ago, Jordan Anaya​, Tim van der Zee, and Nick Brown reported that they’d uncovered 150 errors in 4 papers published by Brian Wansink, a Cornell University business school professor and who describes himself as a “world-renowned eating behavior expert for over 25 years.” 150 errors is pretty bad! I make mistakes myself […]

Why I’m not participating in the Transparent Psi Project

I received the following email from psychology researcher Zoltan Kekecs: I would like to ask you to participate in the establishment of the expert consensus design of a large scale fully transparent replication of Bem’s (2011) ‘Feeling the future’ Experiment 1. Our initiative is called the ‘Transparent Psi Project’. [https://osf.io/jk2zf/wiki/home/] Our aim is to develop […]

Financial anomalies are contingent on being unknown

Jonathan Falk points us to this article by Kewei Hou, Chen Xue, and Lu Zhang, who write: In retrospect, the anomalies literature is a prime target for p-hacking. First, for decades, the literature is purely empirical in nature, with little theoretical guidance. Second, with trillions of dollars invested in anomalies-based strategies in the U.S.market alone, […]