Forming a hyper-precise numerical summary during a research crisis can improve an article’s chance of achieving its publication goals.

Speaking of measurement and numeracy . . . Kevin Lewis pointed me to this published article with the following abstract that starts out just fine but kinda spirals out of control:

Forming a military coalition during an international crisis can improve a state’s chances of achieving its political goals. We argue that the involvement of a coalition, however, can have unintended adverse effects on crisis outcomes by complicating the bargaining process and extending the duration of crises. This argument suggests that crises involving coalitions should be significantly longer than crises without coalitions. However, other factors that affect crisis duration are also likely to influence coalition formation. Therefore, taking into account the endogeneity of the presence of a coalition is essential to testing our hypothesis. To deal with this inferential challenge, we develop a new statistical model that is an extension of instrumental variable estimation in survival analysis. Our analysis of 255 post–World War II interstate crises demonstrates that, even after accounting for the endogeneity of coalition formation, military coalitions tend to extend the duration of crises by approximately 284 days.

Approximately 284, huh? What’s the precise number, 283.734908243098230498?

Somehow I’m reminded of my favorite sentence from any quantitative research ever:

Participants reported being hungrier when they walked into the café (mean = 7.38, SD = 2.20) than when they walked out [mean = 1.53, SD = 2.70, F(1, 75) = 107.68, P < 0.001].

P.S. I have not read the paper on military coalitions and it might well be wonderful and important research. If you’re interested in the topic, go read it! Make your own call on its quality and on the relevance of this research to the real world. I just think that this “approximately 284 days” thing is hilarious, and I say this as someone who’s approximately 174.3 centimeters tall.