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Archive of posts filed under the Zombies category.

Data 1, NPR 0

Jay “should replace the Brooks brothers on the NYT op-ed page” Livingston writes: There it was again, the panic about the narcissism of millennialas as evidenced by selfies. This time it was NPR’s podcast Hidden Brain. The show’s host Shankar Vedantam chose to speak with only one researcher on the topic – psychologist Jean Twenge, […]

“A bug in fMRI software could invalidate 15 years of brain research”

About 50 people pointed me to this press release or the underlying PPNAS research article, “Cluster failure: Why fMRI inferences for spatial extent have inflated false-positive rates,” by Anders Eklund, Thomas Nichols, and Hans Knutsson, who write: Functional MRI (fMRI) is 25 years old, yet surprisingly its most common statistical methods have not been validated […]

“Breakfast skipping, extreme commutes, and the sex composition at birth”

Bhash Mazumder sends along a paper (coauthored with Zachary Seeskin) which begins: A growing body of literature has shown that environmental exposures in the period around conception can affect the sex ratio at birth through selective attrition that favors the survival of female conceptuses. Glucose availability is considered a key indicator of the fetal environment, […]

Good news! PPNAS releases updated guidelines for getting a paper published in their social science division

From zero to Ted talk in 18 simple steps: Rolf Zwaan explains how to do it! The advice is from 2013 but I think it still just might work. Here’s Zwaan: How to Cook up Your Own Social Priming Article 1. Come up with an idea for a study. Don’t sweat it. It’s not as […]

Sniffing tears perhaps not as effective as claimed

Marcel van Assen has a story to share: In 2011 a rather amazing article was published in Science where the authors claim that “We found that merely sniffing negative-emotion-related odorless tears obtained from women donors induced reductions in sexual appeal attributed by men to pictures of women’s faces.” The article is this: Gelstein, S., Yeshurun, […]

Josh Miller hot hand talks in NYC and Pittsburgh this week

Joshua Miller (the person who, with Adam Sanjurjo, discovered why the so-called “hot hand fallacy” is not really a fallacy) will be speaking on the topic this week. In New York, Thurs 17 Nov, 12:30pm, 19 W 4th St, room 517, Center for Experimental Social Science seminar. In Pittsburgh, Fri 18 Nov, 12pm, 4716 Posvsar […]

“Another terrible plot”

Till Hoffman sent me an email with the above subject line and the following content: These plots from the Daily Mail in the UK probably belong in your hall of fame of terrible visualisations: I was gonna click on this, but then I thought . . . the Daily Mail? Even I have limits […]

Rotten all the way through

In a conversation with a journalist regarding bad research papers, I said, “I think there are journals and years where I would guess more than half the papers have essentially fatal errors.” The journalist asked me where this estimate came from, and I replied: I have no systematic statistics on this. My “more than half” […]

Unintentional parody of Psychological Science-style research redeemed by Dan Kahan insight

Cat-owner Kahan’s no Freud expert but he spied the above piece of work and sent it to me along with the comment: I can pretty much tell (meaning I put odds at 9.7:1; obviously I’ll revise when I read) that this is a disaster b/c it tries to tell me what the inferences are and […]

No evidence shark attacks swing elections

Anthony Fowler and Andy Hall write: We reassess Achen and Bartels’ (2002, 2016) prominent claim that shark attacks influence presidential elections, and we find that the evidence is, at best, inconclusive. First, we assemble data on every fatal shark attack in U.S. history and county-level returns from every presidential election between 1872 and 2012, and […]

The problems are everywhere, once you know to look

Josh Miller writes: My friend and colleague Joachim Vosgerau (at Bocconi) sent me some papers from PNAS and they are right in your wheelhouse. Higher social class people behave more unethically. I can certainly vouch for the jerky behavior of people that drive BMWs and Mercedes in Italy (similar to Study 1&2 in Piff et […]

How not to analyze noisy data: A case study

I was reading Jenny Davidson’s blog and came upon this note on an autobiography of the eccentric (but aren’t we all?) biologist Robert Trivers. This motivated me, not to read Trivers’s book, but to do some googling which led me to this paper from Plos-One, “Revisiting a sample of U.S. billionaires: How sample selection and […]

Ptolemaic inference

OK, we’ve been seeing this a lot recently. A psychology study gets published, with a key idea that at first seems wacky but, upon closer reflection, could very well be true! Examples: – That “dentist named Dennis” paper suggesting that people pick where they live and what job to take based on their names. – […]


Yesterday all the past. The language of effect size Spreading to Psychology along the sub-fields; the diffusion Of the counting-frame and the quincunx; Yesterday the shadow-reckoning in the ivy climates. Yesterday the assessment of hypotheses by tests, The divination of water; yesterday the invention Of cartwheels and clocks, the power-pose of Horses. Yesterday the bustling […]

“How One Study Produced a Bunch of Untrue Headlines About Tattoos Strengthening Your Immune System”

Jeff points to this excellently skeptical news article by Caroline Weinberg, who writes: A recent study published in the American Journal of Human Biology suggests that people with previous tattoo experience may have a better immune response to new tattoos than those being inked for the first time. That’s the finding if you read the […]

Another failed replication of power pose

Someone sent me this recent article, “Embodying Power: A Preregistered Replication and Extension of the Power Pose Effect,” by Katie Garrison, David Tang, and Brandon Schmeichel. Unsurprisingly (given that the experiment was preregistered), the authors found no evidence for any effect of power pose. The Garrison et al. paper is reasonable enough, but for my […]

We have a ways to go in communicating the replication crisis

I happened to come across this old post today with this amazing, amazing quote from a Harvard University public relations writer: The replication rate in psychology is quite high—indeed, it is statistically indistinguishable from 100%. This came up in the context of a paper by Daniel Gilbert et al. defending the reputation of social psychology, […]

Should Jonah Lehrer be a junior Gladwell? Does he have any other options?

Remember Jonah Lehrer—that science writer from a few years back whose reputation was tarnished after some plagiarism and fabrication scandals? He’s been blogging—on science! And he’s on to some of the usual suspects: Ellen Langer’s mindfulness (see here for the skeptical take) and—hey—“an important new paper [by] Kyla Haimovitz and Carol Dweck” (see here for […]

“Marginally Significant Effects as Evidence for Hypotheses: Changing Attitudes Over Four Decades”

Kevin Lewis sends along this article by Laura Pritschet, Derek Powell, and Zachary Horne, who write: Some effects are statistically significant. Other effects do not reach the threshold of statistical significance and are sometimes described as “marginally significant” or as “approaching significance.” Although the concept of marginal significance is widely deployed in academic psychology, there […]

Applying the “If there’s no report you can read, there’s no study” principle in real time

So, I was on the website of the New York Times and came across this story by Donna de la Cruz: Opioids May Interfere With Parenting Instincts, Study Finds . . . Researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania scanned the brains of 47 men and women before and after […]