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Archive of posts filed under the Zombies category.

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 […]

Outside pissing in

Coral Davenport writes in the New York Times: Mr. Tribe, 73, has been retained to represent Peabody Energy, the nation’s largest coal company, in its legal quest to block an Environmental Protection Agency regulation that would cut carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s coal-fired power plants . . . Mr. Tribe likened the climate change […]

Round of 8 bracket; Ed Wood (3) vs. Thomas Hobbes; Philip K. Dick (2) vs. Jane Austen

Paul Davidson sends along the updated bracket, along with the comment that the writers seem to be doing very well. True! The 8 remaining contestants include 5 writers (along with one comedian, one philosopher, and one cult figure). Yesterday we had no competition because I was afraid that people would not take it seriously on […]

There are 5 ways to get fired from Caesars: (1) theft, (2) sexual harassment, (3) running an experiment without a control group, (4) keeping a gambling addict away from the casino, and (5) chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings

We first encountered the famous casino operator in February, 2011, when Michael Schrage was hyping the data-driven philosophy of its CEO, Gary Loveman, in Technology Review. Here’s a typical bit from the article: Schrage: What do you like to tell your academic colleagues about the challenges of real-world experimentation and innovation? Loveman: Honestly, my only […]

Enough with the replication police

Can’t those shameless little bullies just let scientists do their research in peace? If a hypothesis test is statistically significant and a result is published in a real journal, that should be enough for any self-styled skeptic. Can you imagine what might happen if any published result could be questioned—by anybody? You’d have serious psychology […]

Another disgraced primatologist . . . this time featuring “sympathetic dentists”

Shravan Vasishth points us to this news item from Luke Harding, “History of modern man unravels as German scholar is exposed as fraud”: Other details of the professor’s life also appeared to crumble under scrutiny. Before he disappeared from the university’s campus last year, Prof Protsch told his students he had examined Hitler’s and Eva […]

“In general I think these literatures have too much focus on data analysis and not enough on data collection.”

Mike Zyphur pointed me to an article appearing in Psychological Bulletin with a meta-analysis of ovulatory cycle effects: Title: Do Women’s Mate Preferences Change Across the Ovulatory Cycle? A Meta-Analytic Review Authors: Gildersleeve, K; Haselton, MG; Fales, MR Source: PSYCHOLOGICAL BULLETIN , 140 (5):1205-1259; SEP 2014 Abstract: Scientific interest in whether women experience changes across […]

“Academics should be made accountable for exaggerations in press releases about their own work”

Fernando Martel Garcia points me to this news article by Ben Goldacre: For anyone with medical training, mainstream media coverage of science can be an uncomfortable read. It is common to find correlational findings misrepresented as denoting causation, for example, or findings in animal studies confidently exaggerated to make claims about treatment for humans. But […]

In search of the elusive loop of plagiarism

OK, here’s a research project for you. From this recent blog comment, I learned about Mustapha Marrouchi, a professor of literature who has plagiarized from various writers, including the noted academic entertainer Slavoj Zizek. Amusing, given that Zizek himself has been caught plagiarizing. Zizek copied from Stanley Hornbeck. Did Hornbeck plagiarize from anyone else? Probably […]

Why I keep talking about “generalizing from sample to population”

Someone publishes some claim, some statistical comparison with “p less than .05″ attached to it. My response is: OK, you see this pattern in the sample. Do you think it holds in the population? Why do I ask this? Why don’t I ask the more standard question: Do you really think this result is statistically […]

The plagiarist next door

In a comment on this chess-related post, Matt Gaffney pointed me to this wonderful page full of chess curiosities by Tim Krabbé. My nederlands is not what it used to be, but Krabbé has posted lots of material in English so that’s no problem. I started reading his “Open chess diary” (i.e., blog), it’s updated […]

What’s the point of the margin of error?

So . . . the scheduled debate on using margin of error with non-probability panels never happened. We got it started but there was some problem with the webinar software and nobody put the participants could hear anything. The 5 minutes of conversation we did have was pretty good, though. I was impressed. The webinar […]

“Surely our first response to the disproof of a shocking-but-surprising claim should be to be un-shocked and un-surprised, not to try to explain away the refutation”

I came across the above quote the other day in an old post of mine, when searching for a Schrodinger’s cat image. The quote came up in the context of a statistical claim made by a political activist which was widely promoted and discussed but which turned out to be false. As I wrote at […]

When a study fails to replicate: let’s be fair and open-minded

In a recent discussion of replication in science (particularly psychology experiments), the question came up of how to interpret things when a preregistered replication reaches a conclusion different from the original study. Typically the original, published result is large and statistically significant, and the estimate from the replication is small and not statistically significant. One […]

Artist needed!

We have some great ideas but none of us can draw. We need your help with designs and art for any or all of these projects: 1. “Gone Fishing” T-shirt A person is standing in a boat, fishing. The lake is full, not of fish but of little numbers: “.14″, “.31″, “.08″, etc etc. And […]

A completely reasonable-sounding statement with which I strongly disagree

In the context of a listserv discussion about replication in psychology experiments, someone wrote: The current best estimate of the effect size is somewhere in between the original study and the replication’s reported value. This conciliatory, split-the-difference statement sounds reasonable, and it might well represent good politics in the context of a war over replications—but […]

Relaxed plagiarism standards as a way to keep the tuition dollars flowing from foreign students

Interesting comment thread at Basbøll’s blog regarding the difficult position of college writing instructors when confronted with blatant student plagiarism. Randall Westgren writes: I believe the easiest part of the patchwriting [plagiarism] phenomenon to understand is why writing instructors are leading the charge. Professor Howard is caught between a herd of high-value (i.e. full-tuition and […]

Stethoscope as weapon of mass distraction

Macartan Humphreys sent me a Shiny app demonstrating you can get statistical significance from just about any pattern of random numbers. I posted it, and, in response, commenter Rahul wrote: It sure is a cute demo but it’s a bit like insinuating a doctor’s stethoscope is useless by demonstrating ten ways in which it can […]

What to think about in 2015: How can the principles of statistical quality control be applied to statistics education

Happy new year! A few years ago, Eric Loken and I wrote, Statisticians: When we teach, we don’t practice what we preach: As statisticians, we give firm guidance in our consulting and research on the virtues of random sampling, randomized treatment assignments, valid and reliable measurements, and clear specification of the statistical procedures that will […]