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

More gremlins: “Instead, he simply pretended the other two estimates did not exist. That is inexcusable.”

Brandon Shollenberger writes: I’ve spent some time examining the work done by Richard Tol which was used in the latest IPCC report.  I was troubled enough by his work I even submitted a formal complaint with the IPCC nearly two months ago (I’ve not heard back from them thus far).  It expressed some of the same concerns […]

A bad definition of statistical significance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Effective Health Care Program

As D.M.C. would say, bad meaning bad not bad meaning good. Deborah Mayo points to this terrible, terrible definition of statistical significance from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: Statistical Significance Definition: A mathematical technique to measure whether the results of a study are likely to be true. Statistical significance is calculated as the […]

Stan is Turing complete

Stan is Turing complete.

“Menstrual Cycle Phase Does Not Predict Political Conservatism”

Someone pointed me to this article by Isabel Scott and Nicholas Pound: Recent authors have reported a relationship between women’s fertility status, as indexed by menstrual cycle phase, and conservatism in moral, social and political values. We conducted a survey to test for the existence of a relationship between menstrual cycle day and conservatism. 2213 […]

Hey, this is what Michael Lacour should’ve done when they asked him for his data

Texas Town Is Charging Us $79,000 for Emails About Pool Party Abuse Cop. FOIA that, pal!

The David Brooks files: How many uncorrected mistakes does it take to be discredited?

OK, why am I writing this? We all know that New York Times columnist David Brooks deals in false statistics, he’s willing and able to get factual matters wrong, he doesn’t even fact-check his own reporting, his response when people point out his mistakes is irritation rather than thanks, he won’t run a correction even […]

Michael LaCour in 20 years

In case you were wondering what “Bruno” Lacour will be doing a couple decades from now . . . James Delaney pointed me to this CNN news article, “Connecticut’s strict gun law linked to large homicide drop” by Carina Storrs: The rate of gun-related murders fell sharply in the 10 years after Connecticut implemented a […]

Of buggy whips and moral hazards; or, Sympathy for the Aapor

We’ve talked before about those dark-ages classical survey sampling types who say you can’t do poop with opt-in samples. The funny thing is, these people do all sorts of adjustment themselves, in the sampling or in post-data weighting or both, to deal with the inevitable fact that the people you can actually reach when you […]

My final post on this Tony Blair thing

Gur Huberman writes on the recent fraud in experiments in polisci: This comment is a reaction to the little of the discussion which I [Gur] followed, mostly in the NYTimes. What I didn’t see anybody say is that the system actually worked. First, there’s a peer-reviewed report in Science. Then other people deem the results […]

John Bohannon’s chocolate-and-weight-loss hoax study actually understates the problems with standard p-value scientific practice

Several people pointed me to this awesome story by John Bohannon: “Slim by Chocolate!” the headlines blared. A team of German researchers had found that people on a low-carb diet lost weight 10 percent faster if they ate a chocolate bar every day. It made the front page of Bild, Europe’s largest daily newspaper, just […]

Cracked.com > Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times

David Christopher Bell goes to the trouble (link from Palko) to explain why “Every Map of ‘The Most Popular _________ by State’ Is Bullshit.” As long as enterprising P.R. firms are willing to supply unsourced data, lazy journalists (or whatever you call these people) will promote it. We saw this a few years ago in […]

Creativity is the ability to see relationships where none exist

Brent Goldfarb and Andrew King, in a paper to appear in the journal Strategic Management, write: In a recent issue of this journal, Bettis (2012) reports a conversation with a graduate student who forthrightly announced that he had been trained by faculty to “search for asterisks”. The student explained that he sifted through large databases […]

Weggy update: it just gets sadder and sadder

Uh oh, lots on research misconduct lately. Newest news is that noted Wikipedia-lifter Ed Wegman sued John Mashey, one of his critics, for $2 million dollars. Then he backed down and decided not to sue after all. Best quote from Mashey’s write-up: None of this made any sense to me, but then I am no […]

“I mean, what exact buttons do I have to hit?”

While looking for something else, I happened to come across this: Unfortunately there’s the expectation that if you start with a scientific hypothesis and do a randomized experiment, there should be a high probability of learning an enduring truth. And if the subject area is exciting, there should consequently be a high probability of publication […]

There’s No Such Thing As Unbiased Estimation. And It’s a Good Thing, Too.

Following our recent post on econometricians’ traditional privileging of unbiased estimates, there were a bunch of comments echoing the challenge of teaching this topic, as students as well as practitioners often seem to want the comfort of an absolute standard such as best linear unbiased estimate or whatever. Commenters also discussed the tradeoff between bias […]

“The general problem I have with noninformatively-derived Bayesian probabilities is that they tend to be too strong.”

We interrupt our usual programming of mockery of buffoons to discuss a bit of statistical theory . . . Continuing from yesterday‘s quotation of my 2012 article in Epidemiology: Like many Bayesians, I have often represented classical confidence intervals as posterior probability intervals and interpreted one-sided p-values as the posterior probability of a positive effect. […]

The feather, the bathroom scale, and the kangaroo

Here’s something I wrote in the context of one of those “power = .06″ studies: My criticism of the ovulation-and-voting study is ultimately quantitative. Their effect size is tiny and their measurement error is huge. My best analogy is that they are trying to use a bathroom scale to weigh a feather—and the feather is […]

Diederik Stapel in the news, again

Bikes . . . have “become the most common mode of transportation for criminals.” OK, that’s just ethnic profiling of Dutch people. I think they’re just gonna put the whole country on lockdown.

How do data and experiments fit into a scientific research program?

I was talking with someone today about various “dead on arrival” research programs we’ve been discussing here for the past few years: I’m talking about topics such beauty and sex ratios of children, or ovulation and voting, or ESP—all of which possibly represent real phenomena and could possibly be studied in a productive way, just […]

A silly little error, of the sort that I make every day

Ummmm, running Stan, testing out a new method we have that applies EP-like ideas to perform inference with aggregate data—it’s really cool, I’ll post more on it once we’ve tried everything out and have a paper that’s in better shape—anyway, I’m starting with a normal example, a varying-intercept, varying-slope model where the intercepts have population […]