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Archive of posts filed under the Zombies category.

First, second, and third order bias corrections (also, my ugly R code for the mortality-rate graphs!)

As an applied statistician, I don’t do a lot of heavy math. I did prove a true theorem once (with the help of some collaborators), but that was nearly twenty years ago. Most of the time I walk along pretty familiar paths, just hoping that other people will do the mathematical work necessary for me […]

Asking the question is the most important step

In statistics, the glamour often comes to those who perform a challenging data analysis that extracts signal from noise, as in Aki Vehtari’s decomposition of the famous birthday data which led to the stunning graphs on the cover of BDA3. But, from a social-science point of view, the biggest credit has to go to whoever […]

Pass the popcorn

Rodney Sparapini writes: I got this in my inbox today. I thought this might be of interest to you and your blog readers. It’s not at all of interest to me but it might interest some of my readers. I’m posting it here because there’s something amazing about seeing this intense dispute about something I’ve […]

Death rates have been increasing for middle-aged white women, decreasing for men

Here’s the deal (data from CDC Wonder, age-standardized to a uniform distribution in the age range): Hoo boy. Looky here, something interesting: From 1999 to 2013, the death rate for middle-aged white women steadily increased. The death rate for middle-aged white men increased through 2005, then decreased. Since 2005, the death rate has been rising […]

Why Retraction Watch remains necessary

A few months ago Psych Science issued a press release, “Blue and Seeing Blue: Sadness May Impair Color Perception,” promoting a fatally flawed paper that appeared in their journal. I heard about this paper from Nick Brown, and we slammed it on the blog. As I wrote at the time, I have nothing against the […]

The tabloids strike again

Under the heading, “Unlearning implicit social biases during sleep,” Nick Brown writes: What do you make of this? At first sight I’m unimpressed; it looks like just another glamour journal fluff piece. For example, it seems to me that Figure 1F commits the error described here; and the authors seem to ignore the large increase […]

“Another reminder that David Brooks is very good at being David Brooks”

Outsourcing this one to Palko.

You won’t be able to stop staring at this original Hot Hand preprint

To continue with our basketball theme, here’s the preprint of the original hot hand paper, “Misperception of Chance Processes in Basketball,” by Amos Tversky, Robert Vallone, and Thomas Gilovich, from 1985 or so. I remember when it was floating around and everybody was talking about it. When discussing the hot hand with Josh Miller the […]

Ta-Nehisi Coates, David Brooks, and the “Street Code” of Journalism

In my latest Daily Beast column, I decide to be charitable to the factually-challenged NYT columnist: From our perspective, Brooks’s refusal to admit error makes him look like a buffoon. But maybe we’re just judging him based on the norms of another culture. . . . From our perspective, Brooks spreading anti-Semitic false statistics in […]

Explaining to Gilovich about the hot hand

X points me to this news article by George Johnson regarding the hot hand in basketball. Nothing new since the previous hot hand report (also Johnson follows the usual newspaper convention of not citing the earlier article in the Wall Street Journal, instead simply linking back to the Miller and Sanjurjo article as if it […]

In answer to James Coyne’s question, no, I can’t make sense of this diagram.

We last encountered James Coyne in the context of skepticism about claims that talk therapy can halve the rate of cancer recurrence, and skepticism about claims that giving plants to old people can extend life (of the people, that is, not the plants). Now Coyne points us to a paper, “How positive emotions build physical […]

New competition: Pick a title for Niall Ferguson’s next book!

I saw this recent news item and I realized it’s a perfect hook for a new work by the prolific and trash-talking historian Niall Ferguson. Once the Kissinger biography is over, I assume Ferguson will want to return to his specialty, economic history. And what better topic than an exploration of mid-twentieth century Keynesianism. Ferguson […]

Gay gene tabloid hype update

Tuck Ngun, one of the researchers involved in the “Twin study reveals five DNA markers that are associated with sexual orientation” project, posted a disagreement with some criticisms relayed by science reporter Ed Yong. I’d thought Yong’s points were pretty good and I was interested in seeing what Ngun had to say. Ngun wrote: I […]

Latest gay gene tabloid hype

The tabloid in question is the journal Nature, which along with Science and PPNAS (the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, publisher of gems such as the himmicanes and hurricanes study) has in recent years become notorious for publishing flashy but unsubstantiated scientific claims. As Lord Acton never said, publicity corrupts, and absolute publicity […]

Doomed to fail: A pre-registration site for parapsychology

A correspondent writes: There is now a pre-registration site for parapsychology: There are several experiments that completely flopped, some that haven’t been published after a few years (like Daryl Bem and collaborator’s attempted large-n replication of Bem), and some that report positive pre-registered results (but probably usually have repeatable methodological problems). Sorry but […]

Low-power pose

“The samples were collected in privacy, using passive drool procedures, and frozen immediately.” Anna Dreber sends along a paper, “Assessing the Robustness of Power Posing: No Effect on Hormones and Risk Tolerance in a Large Sample of Men and Women,” which she published in Psychological Science with coauthors Eva Ranehill, Magnus Johannesson, Susanne Leiberg, Sunhae […]

The aching desire for regular scientific breakthroughs

This post didn’t come out the way I planned. Here’s what happened. I cruised over to the British Psychological Society Research Digest (formerly on our blogroll) and came across a press release entitled “Background positive music increases people’s willingness to do others harm.” Uh oh, I thought. This sounds like one of those flaky studies, […]

Even though it’s published in a top psychology journal, she still doesn’t believe it

Nadia Hassan writes: I wanted to ask you about this article. Andrea Meltzer, James McNulty, Saul Miller, and Levi Baker, “A Psychophysiological Mechanism Underlying Women’s Weight-Management Goals Women Desire and Strive for Greater Weight Loss Near Peak Fertility.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (2015): 0146167215585726. I [Hassan] find it kind of questionable. Fortunately, the authors […]

P-values and statistical practice

What is a p-value in practice? The p-value is a measure of discrepancy of the fit of a model or “null hypothesis” H to data y. In theory the p-value is a continuous measure of evidence, but in practice it is typically trichotomized approximately into strong evidence, weak evidence, and no evidence (these can also […]

A Psych Science reader-participation game: Name this blog post

In a discussion of yesterday’s post on studies that don’t replicate, Nick Brown did me the time-wasting disservice of pointing out a recent press release from Psychological Science which, as you might have heard, is “the highest ranked empirical journal in psychology.” The press release is called “Blue and Seeing Blue: Sadness May Impair Color […]