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Archive of posts filed under the Sociology category.

Data concerns when interpreting comparisons of gender equality between countries

A journalist pointed me to this research article, “Gender equality and sex differences in personality: evidence from a large, multi-national sample,” by Tim Kaiser (see also news report by Angela Lashbrook here), which states: A large, multinational (N = 926,383) dataset was used to examine sex differences in Big Five facet scores for 70 countries. […]

The scandal isn’t what’s retracted, the scandal is what’s not retracted.

Andrew Han at Retraction Watch reports on a paper, “Structural stigma and all-cause mortality in sexual minority populations,” published in 2014 by Mark Hatzenbuehler, Anna Bellatorre, Yeonjin Lee, Brian Finch, Peter Muennig, and Kevin Fiscella, that claimed: Sexual minorities living in communities with high levels of anti-gay prejudice experienced a higher hazard of mortality than […]

The competing narratives of scientific revolution

Back when we were reading Karl Popper’s Logic of Scientific Discovery and Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions, who would’ve thought that we’d be living through a scientific revolution ourselves? Scientific revolutions occur on all scales, but here let’s talk about some of the biggies: 1850-1950: Darwinian revolution in biology, changed how we think about […]

Let’s get hysterical

Following up on our discussion of hysteresis in the scientific community, Nick Brown points us to this article from 2014, “Excellence by Nonsense: The Competition for Publications in Modern Science,” by Mathias Binswanger, who writes: To ensure the efficient use of scarce funds, the government forces universities and professors, together with their academic staff, to […]

I think there may be some overlap in this Venn diagram.

Kevin Lewis pointed to a paper with the following bit: In both Experiment 1 (N = 180 gamblers) and Experiment 2 (N = 202 drinkers) . . .

How feminism has made me a better scientist

Feminism is not a branch of science. It is not a set of testable propositions about the observable world, nor is it any single research method. From my own perspective, feminism is a political movement associated with successes such as votes for women, setbacks such as the failed Equal Rights Amendment, and continuing struggles in […]

Discussion of the value of a mathematical model for the dissemination of propaganda

A couple people pointed me to this article, “How to Beat Science and Influence People: Policy Makers and Propaganda in Epistemic Networks,” by James Weatherall, Cailin O’Connor, and Justin Bruner, also featured in this news article. Their paper begins: In their recent book Merchants of Doubt [New York:Bloomsbury 2010], Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway describe […]

Some thoughts after reading “Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup”

I just read the above-titled John Carreyrou book, and it’s as excellent as everyone says it is. I suppose it’s the mark of any compelling story that it will bring to mind other things you’ve been thinking about, and in this case I saw many connections between the story of Theranos—a company that raised billions […]

“The most important aspect of a statistical analysis is not what you do with the data, it’s what data you use” (survey adjustment edition)

Dean Eckles pointed me to this recent report by Andrew Mercer, Arnold Lau, and Courtney Kennedy of the Pew Research Center, titled, “For Weighting Online Opt-In Samples, What Matters Most? The right variables make a big difference for accuracy. Complex statistical methods, not so much.” I like most of what they write, but I think […]

Let’s be open about the evidence for the benefits of open science

A reader who wishes to remain anonymous writes: I would be curious to hear your thoughts on is motivated reasoning among open science advocates. In particular, I’ve noticed that papers arguing for open practices have seriously bad/nonexistent causal identification strategies. Examples: Kidwell et al. 2017, Badges to Acknowledge Open Practices: A Simple, Low-Cost, Effective Method […]

The replication crisis and the political process

Jackson Monroe writes: I thought you might be interested in an article [by Dan McLaughlin] in NRO that discusses the replication crisis as part of a broadside against all public health research and social science. It seemed as though the author might be twisting the nature of the replication crisis toward his partisan ends, but […]

The file drawer’s on fire!

Kevin Lewis sends along this article, commenting, “That’s one smokin’ file drawer!” Here’s the story, courtesy of Clayton Velicer, Gideon St. Helen, and Stanton Glantz: We examined the relationship between the tobacco industry and the journal Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology (RTP) using the Truth Tobacco Industry Documents Library and internet sources. We determined the funding […]

Revisiting “Is the scientific paper a fraud?”

Javier Benitez points us to this article from 2014 by Susan Howitt and Anna Wilson, which has subtitle, “The way textbooks and scientific research articles are being used to teach undergraduate students could convey a misleading image of scientific research,” and begins: In 1963, Peter Medawar gave a talk, Is the scientific paper a fraud?, […]

Of Tennys players and moral Hazards

Zach Shahn writes: After watching Tennys Sandgren play in the Australian Open quarterfinals last night, I think it might be time to accept that the dentists named Dennis people were onto something. Looking him up revealed that he was named after his great grandfather and not by a Richard Williams type parent who planned on […]

How to think about an accelerating string of research successes?

While reading this post by Seth Frey on famous scientists who couldn’t let go of bad ideas, I followed a link to this post by David Gorski from 2010 entitled, “Luc Montagnier: The Nobel disease strikes again.” The quick story is that Montagnier endorsed some dubious theories. Here’s Gorski: He only won the Nobel Prize […]

Journals and refereeing: toward a new equilibrium

As we’ve discussed before (see also here), one of the difficulties of moving from our current system of review of scientific journal articles, to a new model of post-publication review, is that any major change seems likely to break the current “gift economy” system in which thousands of scientists put in millions of hours providing […]

The “Carl Sagan effect”

Javier Benítez writes: I am not in academia, but I have learned a lot about science from what’s available to the public. But I also didn’t know that public outreach is looked down upon by academia. See the Carl Sagan Effect. Susana Martinez-Conde writes: One scientist, who agreed to participate on the condition of anonymity—an […]

The course of science

Shravan Vasishth sends this along: Yup. Not always, though. Even though the above behavior is rewarded.

What happens to your career when you have to retract a paper?

In response to our recent post on retractions, Josh Krieger sends along two papers he worked on with Pierre Azoulay, Jeff Furman, Fiona Murray, and Alessandro Bonatti. Krieger writes, “Both papers are about the spillover effects of retractions on other work. Turns out retractions are great for identification!” Paper #1: “The career effects of scandal: […]

Should the points in this scatterplot be binned?

Someone writes: Care to comment on this paper‘s Figure 4? I found it a bit misleading to do scatter plots after averaging over multiple individuals. Most scatter plots could be “improved” this way to make things look much cleaner than they are. People are already advertising the paper using this figure. The article, Genetic analysis […]