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Archive of posts filed under the Zombies category.

“La critique est la vie de la science”: I kinda get annoyed when people set themselves up as the voice of reason but don’t ever get around to explaining what’s the unreasonable thing they dislike.

Someone pointed me to a blog post, Negative Psychology, from 2014 by Jim Coan about the replication crisis in psychology. My reaction: I find it hard to make sense of what he is saying because he doesn’t offer any examples of the “negative psychology” phenomenon that he discussing. I kinda get annoyed when people set […]

Beyond “power pose”: Using replication failures and a better understanding of data collection and analysis to do better science

So. A bunch of people pointed me to a New York Times article by Susan Dominus about Amy Cuddy, the psychology researcher and Ted-talk star famous for the following claim (made in a paper written with Dana Carney and Andy Yap and published in 2010): That a person can, by assuming two simple 1-min poses, […]

From perpetual motion machines to embodied cognition: The boundaries of pseudoscience are being pushed back into the trivial.

This exchange came from a comment thread last year. Diana Senechal points to this bizarre thing: Brian Little says in Me, Myself, and Us (regarding the “lemon introvert test”): One of the more interesting ways of informally assessing extraversion at the biogenic level is to do the lemon-drop test. [Description of experiment omitted from present […]

Beyond forking paths: using multilevel modeling to figure out what can be learned from this survey experiment

Under the heading, “Incompetent leaders as a protection against elite betrayal,” Tyler Cowen linked to this paper, “Populism and the Return of the ‘Paranoid Style’: Some Evidence and a Simple Model of Demand for Incompetence as Insurance against Elite Betrayal,” by Rafael Di Tella and Julio Rotemberg. From a statistical perspective, the article by Tella […]

“congratulations, your article is published!” Ummm . . .

The following came in the email under the heading, “congratulations, your article is published!”: I don’t know that I should be congratulated on correcting an error, but sure, whatever. P.S. The above cat is adorably looking out and will notice all of your errors.

Sudden Money

Anne Pier Salverda writes: I’m not sure if you’re keeping track of published failures to replicate the power posing effect, but this article came out earlier this month: “Embodied power, testosterone, and overconfidence as a causal pathway to risk-taking” From the abstract: We were unable to replicate the findings of the original study and subsequently […]

BREAKING . . . . . . . PNAS updates its slogan!

I’m so happy about this, no joke. Here’s the story. For awhile I’ve been getting annoyed by the junk science papers (for example, here, here, and here) that have been published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences under the editorship of Susan T. Fiske. I’ve taken to calling it PPNAS (“Prestigious proceedings […]

When considering proposals for redefining or abandoning statistical significance, remember that their effects on science will only be indirect!

John Schwenkler organized a discussion on this hot topic, featuring posts by – Dan Benjamin, Jim Berger, Magnus Johannesson, Valen Johnson, Brian Nosek, and E. J. Wagenmakers – Felipe De Brigard – Kenny Easwaran – Andrew Gelman and Blake McShane – Kiley Hamlin – Edouard Machery – Deborah Mayo – “Neuroskeptic” – Michael Strevens – […]

Alan Sokal’s comments on “Abandon Statistical Significance”

The physicist and science critic writes: I just came across your paper “Abandon statistical significance”. I basically agree with your point of view, but I think you could have done more to *distinguish* clearly between several different issues: 1) In most problems in the biomedical and social sciences, the possible hypotheses are parametrized by a […]

The “fish MRI” of international relations studies.

Kevin Lewis pointed me to this paper by Stephen Chaudoin, Jude Hays and Raymond Hicks, “Do We Really Know the WTO Cures Cancer?”, which begins: This article uses a replication experiment of ninety-four specifications from sixteen different studies to show the severity of the problem of selection on unobservables. Using a variety of approaches, it […]

Automated Inference on Criminality Using High-tech GIGO Analysis

Yee Whye Teh writes: You might be interested in this article. My reply was that this is just a big joke, one more bit of hype over a bunch of correlations. Lots of obvious problems with this paper, and it’s too bad that journalists fell for it. And, as an MIT grad, I’m particularly sad […]

“Cheerleading with an agenda: how the press covers science”

Yarden Katz writes: I thought you might be interested in this new (critical) perspective on science journalism: Cheerleading with an agenda: how the press covers science. It’s a topic far less urgent than the election (but related to the broader press failures that have been very visible in politics). My reply: This is an excellent […]

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 […]