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

Further evidence that creativity and innovation are stimulated by college sports: Evidence from a big regression

Kevin Lewis sent along this paper from the Creativity Research Journal: Further Evidence that Creativity and Innovation are Inhibited by Conservative Thinking: Analyses of the 2016 Presidential Election The investigation replicated and extended previous research showing a negative relationship between conservatism and creative accomplishment. Conservatism was estimated, as in previous research, from voting patterns. The […]

Air rage update

So. Marcus Crede, Carol Nickerson, and I published a letter in PPNAS criticizing the notorious “air rage” article. (Due to space limitations, our letter contained only a small subset of the many possible criticisms of that paper.) Our letter was called “Questionable association between front boarding and air rage.” The authors of the original paper, […]

It’s not enough to be a good person and to be conscientious. You also need good measurement. Cargo-cult science done very conscientiously doesn’t become good science, it just falls apart from its own contradictions.

Kevin Lewis points us to a biology/psychology paper that was a mix of reasonable null claims (on the order of, the data don’t give us enough information to say anything about XYZ) and some highly questionable noise mining supported by p-values and forking paths. The whole thing is just so sad. The researchers are aware […]

p less than 0.00000000000000000000000000000000 . . . now that’s what I call evidence!

I read more carefully the news article linked to in the previous post, which describes a forking-pathed nightmare of a psychology study, the sort of thing that was routine practice back in 2010 or so but which we’ve mostly learned to at least try to avoid. Anyway, one thing I learned there’s something called “terror […]

As if the 2010s never happened

E. J. writes: I’m sure I’m not the first to send you this beauty. Actually, E. J., you’re the only one who sent me this! It’s a news article, “Can the fear of death instantly make you a better athlete?”, reporting on a psychology experiment: For the first study, 31 male undergraduates who liked basketball […]

It seemed to me that most destruction was being done by those who could not choose between the two

Amateurs, dilettantes, hacks, cowboys, clones — Nick Cave [Note from Dan 11Sept: I wanted to leave some clear air after the StanCon reminder, so I scheduled this post for tomorrow. Which means you get two posts (one from me, one from Andrew) on this in two days. That’s probably more than the gay face study deserves.] […]

Selection bias in the reporting of shaky research: An example

On 30 Dec 2016, a reporter wrote: I was wondering if you’d have some time to look at an interesting embargoed study coming out next week in JAMA Internal Medicine, which seeks to show that gun violence is a social contagion. I know that a few years ago, social contagion studies were controversial and I’m […]

Too much backscratching and happy talk: Junk science gets to share in the reputation of respected universities

Nick Stevenson writes: I agree that it’s disappointing that so many publications that pride themselves on the quality of their journalism – NYTimes, WashPo, Slate, Vox – ran with the EIP’s work, but does the fault really lie with them? This work has been promoted on the conference circuit for years by a full professor […]

Fake polls. Not new.

Mark Palko points me to this article by Harry Enten about a possibly nonexistent poll that was promoted by an organization or group or website called Delphi Analytica. Enten conjectures that the reported data were not fabricated but they’re not a serious poll either but rather some raw undigested output from a Google poll. This […]

“From that perspective, power pose lies outside science entirely, and to criticize power pose would be a sort of category error, like criticizing The Lord of the Rings on the grounds that there’s no such thing as an invisibility ring, or criticizing The Rotter’s Club on the grounds that Jonathan Coe was just making it all up.”

From last year: One could make the argument that power pose is innocuous, maybe beneficial in that it is a way of encouraging people to take charge of their lives. And this may be so. Even if power pose itself is meaningless, the larger “power pose” story could be a plus. Of course, if power […]

Sucker MC’s keep falling for patterns in noise

Mike Spagat writes: Apologies if forty people just sent this to you but maybe it’s obscure enough that I’m the first. It’s a news article by Irina Ivanova entitled, “‘Very unattractive’ workers can out-earn pretty people, study finds.” Spagat continues: You may be able to recognize a pattern here: Tiny, noisy sample Surprise result Journal […]

“Babbage was out to show that not only was the system closed, with a small group controlling access to the purse strings and the same individuals being selected over and again for the few scientific honours or paid positions that existed, but also that one of the chief beneficiaries . . . was undeserving.”

Fernando Martel Garcia writes: Here’s an early reference from the Victorian Age. Enjoy! It’s a news article by Rebekah Higgitt called “Fraud and the decline of science,” subtitled, “Charles Babbage’s accusations of fraudulent science underlined his attack on scientific governance, but were also bitterly personal.” My reply: Wow! I think I’m on Babbage’s side on […]

Just google “Despite limited statistical power”

Here it is. It’s not always clear what people mean by this expression, but sometimes it seems that they’re making the “What does not kill my statistical significance makes it stronger” fallacy, thinking that the attainment of statistical significance is a particular feat in the context of a noisy study, so that they’re (mistakenly) thinking […]

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 […]