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Archive of posts filed under the Zombies category.

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 […]

Michael Lacour vs John Bargh and Amy Cuddy

In our discussion of the Bargh, Chen, and Burrows priming-with-elderly-related-words-makes-people-walk-slowly-paper (the study which famously failed in a preregistered replication), commenter Lois wrote: Curious as to what people think of this comment on the Bargh et al. (1996) paper from Pubpeer: (see below). In Experiment 3, the experimenter rated participants on irritability, hostility, anger, and uncooperativeness […]

The never-back-down syndrome and the fundamental attribution error

David Allison told me about a frustrating episode in which he published a discussion where he pointed out problems with a published paper, and the authors replied with . . . not even a grudging response, they didn’t give an inch, really ungracious behavior. No “Thank you for finding our errors”; instead they wrote: We […]

It’s not about the snobbery, it’s all about reality: At last, I finally understand hatred of “middlebrow”

I remember reading Dwight Macdonald and others slamming “middlebrows” and thinking, what’s the point? The classic argument from the 1940s onward was to say that true art (James Joyce etc) was ok, and true mass culture (Mickey Mouse and detective stories) were cool, but anything in the middle (John Marquand, say) was middlebrow and deserved […]

Don’t trust Rasmussen polls!

Political scientist Alan Abramowitz brings us some news about the notorious pollster: In the past 12 months, according to Real Clear Politics, there have been 72 national polls matching Clinton with Trump—16 polls conducted by Fox News or Rasmussen and 56 polls conducted by other polling organizations. Here are the results: Trump has led or […]

NPR’s gonna NPR

I was gonna give this post the title, Stat Rage More Severe in the Presence of First-Class Journals, but then I thought I’d keep it simple. Chapter 1. Background OK, here’s what happened. A couple weeks ago someone pointed me to a low-quality paper that appeared in PPNAS (the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy […]

Don’t move Penn Station

I agree 100% with Henry Grabar on this one. Ever since I heard many years ago about the plan to blog a few billion dollars moving NYC’s Penn Station to a prettier but less convenient location, I’ve grimaced. Big shots really love to spend our money on fancy architecture, don’t they? As I wrote a […]

I refuse to blog about this one

Shravan points me to this article, Twitter Language Use Reflects Psychological Differences between Democrats and Republicans, which begins with the following self-parody of an abstract: Previous research has shown that political leanings correlate with various psychological factors. While surveys and experiments provide a rich source of information for political psychology, data from social networks can […]

Cracks in the thin blue line

When people screw up or cheat in their research, what do their collaborators say? The simplest case is when coauthors admit their error, as Cexun Jeffrey Cai and I did when it turned out that we’d miscoded a key variable in an analysis, invalidating the empirical claims of our award-winning paper. On the other extreme, […]

Why is the scientific replication crisis centered on psychology?

The replication crisis is a big deal. But it’s a problem in lots of scientific fields. Why is so much of the discussion about psychology research? Why not economics, which is more controversial and gets more space in the news media? Or medicine, which has higher stakes and a regular flow of well-publicized scandals? Here […]

What has happened down here is the winds have changed

Someone sent me this article by psychology professor Susan Fiske, scheduled to appear in the APS Observer, a magazine of the Association for Psychological Science. The article made me a little bit sad, and I was inclined to just keep my response short and sweet, but then it seemed worth the trouble to give some […]

“Methodological terrorism”

Methodological terrorism is when you publish a paper in a peer-reviewed journal, its claim is supported by a statistically significant t statistic of 5.03, and someone looks at your numbers, figures out that the correct value is 1.8, and then posts that correction on social media. Terrorism is when somebody blows shit up and tries […]

Hey, PPNAS . . . this one is the fish that got away.

Uri Simonsohn just turned down the chance to publish a paper that could’ve been published in a top journal (a couple years ago I’d’ve said Psychological Science but recently they’ve somewhat cleaned up their act, so let’s say PPNAS which seems to be still going strong) followed by features in NPR, major newspapers, BoingBoing, and […]

Redemption

I’ve spent a lot of time mocking Mark Hauser on this blog, and I still find it annoying that, according to the accounts I’ve seen, he behaved unethically toward his graduate students and lab assistants, he never apologized for manipulating data, and, perhaps most unconscionably, he wasted the lives of who knows how many monkeys […]

An auto-mechanic-style sign for data sharing

Yesterday’s story reminds me of that sign you used to see at the car repair shop: Maybe we need something similar for data access rules: DATA RATES PER HOUR If you want to write a press release for us $ 50.00 If you want to write a new paper using our data $ 90.00 If […]

Genius is not enough: The sad story of Peter Hagelstein, living monument to the sunk-cost fallacy

I sometimes pick up various old collections that will be suitable for bathroom reading, and so it was that the other day I was sitting on the throne reading the summer 1985 issue of Granta, entitled Science. Lots of great stuff here, including Oliver Sacks on Tourette’s syndrome, Thomas McMahan on Alexander Graham Bell, and […]

Hypothesis Testing is a Bad Idea (my talk at Warwick, England, 2pm Thurs 15 Sept)

This is the conference, and here’s my talk (will do Google hangout, just as with my recent talks in Bern, Strasbourg, etc): Hypothesis Testing is a Bad Idea Through a series of examples, we consider problems with classical hypothesis testing, whether performed using classical p-values or confidence intervals, Bayes factors, or Bayesian inference using noninformative […]

You may not be interested in peer review, but peer review is interested in you

Here’s an ironic juxtaposition from Tyler Cowen’s blog. On 28 Apr he discusses a paper with a market system for improving peer review and concludes, “Interesting, but the main problem with the idea is simply that no one cares.” The day before, his assorted links featured “Frequency of Sex Shapes Automatic, but Not Explicit, Partner […]