Author: Andrew

R fixed its default histogram bin width!

I remember hist() in R as having horrible defaults, with the histogram bars way too wide. (See this discussion: A key benefit of a histogram is that, as a plot of raw data, it contains the seeds of its own error assessment. Or, to put it another way, the jaggedness of a slightly undersmoothed histogram […]

Update on that study of p-hacking

Ron Berman writes: I noticed you posted an anonymous email about our working paper on p-hacking and false discovery, but was a bit surprised that it references an early version of the paper. We addressed the issues mentioned in the post more than two months ago in a version that has been available online since […]

P-hacking in study of “p-hacking”?

Someone who wishes to remain anonymous writes: This paper [“p-Hacking and False Discovery in A/B Testing,” by Ron Berman, Leonid Pekelis, Aisling Scott, and Christophe Van den Bulte] ostensibly provides evidence of “p-hacking” in online experimentation (A/B testing) by looking at the decision to stop experiments right around thresholds for the platform presenting confidence that […]

More on that horrible statistical significance grid

Regarding this horrible Table 4: Eric Loken writes: The clear point or your post was that p-values (and even worse the significance versus non-significance) are a poor summary of data. The thought I’ve had lately, working with various groups of really smart and thoughtful researchers, is that Table 4 is also a model of their […]

Paul Erdos vs. Albert Brooks; Sid Caesar advances

The key question yesterday was, can Babe Didrikson Zaharias do comedy or can Sid Caesar do sports. According to Mark Palko, Sid Caesar was by all accounts extremely physically strong. And I know of no evidence that Babe was funny. So Your Show of Shows will be going into the third round. And now we […]

Simulation-based statistical testing in journalism

Jonathan Stray writes: In my recent Algorithms in Journalism course we looked at a post which makes a cute little significance-type argument that five Trump campaign payments were actually the $130,000 Daniels payoff. They summed to within a dollar of $130,000, so the simulation recreates sets of payments using bootstrapping and asks how often there’s […]

Michael Crichton on science and storytelling

Javier Benitez points us to this 1999 interview with techno-thriller writer Michael Crichton, who says: I come before you today as someone who started life with degrees in physical anthropology and medicine; who then published research on endocrinology, and papers in the New England Journal of Medicine, and even in the Proceedings of the Peabody […]

Halftime! And Jim Thorpe (1) vs. DJ Jazzy Jeff

So. Here’s the bracket so far: Our first second-round match is the top-ranked GOAT—the greatest GOAT of all time, as it were—vs. an unseeded but appealing person whose name ends in f. Again here are the rules: We’re trying to pick the ultimate seminar speaker. I’m not asking for the most popular speaker, or the […]

Should he go to grad school in statistics or computer science?

Someone named Nathan writes: I am an undergraduate student in statistics and a reader of your blog. One thing that you’ve been on about over the past year is the difficulty of executing hypothesis testing correctly, and an apparent desire to see researchers move away from that paradigm. One thing I see you mention several […]

Yakov Smirnoff advances, and Halftime!

Best argument yesterday came from Yuling: I want to learn more about missing data analysis from the seminar so I like Harry Houdini. But Yakov Smirnoff is indeed better for this topic — both Vodka and the Soviet are treatments that guarantee everyone to be Missing Completely at Random, and as statistican we definitely prefer […]

Global warming? Blame the Democrats.

An anonymous blog commenter sends the above graph and writes: I was looking at the global temperature record and noticed an odd correlation the other day. Basically, I calculated the temperature trend for each presidency and multiplied by the number of years to get a “total temperature change”. If there was more than one president […]

Harry Houdini (1) vs. Yakov Smirnoff; Meryl Streep advances

Best argument yesterday came from Jonathan: This one’s close. Meryl Streep and Alice Waters both have 5 letters in the first name and 6 in the last name. Tie. Both are adept at authentic accents. Tie. Meryl has played a international celebrity cook; Alice has never played an actress. Advantage Streep. Waters has taught many […]

“Using 26,000 diary entries to show ovulatory changes in sexual desire and behavior”

Kevin Lewis points us to this research paper by Ruben Arslan, Katharina Schilling, Tanja Gerlach, and Lars Penke, which begins: Previous research reported ovulatory changes in women’s appearance, mate preferences, extra- and in-pair sexual desire, and behavior, but has been criticized for small sample sizes, inappropriate designs, and undisclosed flexibility in analyses. Examples of such […]

Alice Waters (4) vs. Meryl Streep; LeBron James advances

It’s L’Bron. Only pitch for Mr. Magic was from DanC: guy actually is ultra-tall, plus grand than that non-Cav who had play’d for Miami. But Dalton brings it back for Bron: LeBron James getting to the NBA Final with J.R. Smith as his best supporting cast member is a more preposterous escape than anything David […]

Our hypotheses are not just falsifiable; they’re actually false.

Everybody’s talkin bout Popper, Lakatos, etc. I think they’re great. Falsificationist Bayes, all the way, man! But there’s something we need to be careful about. All the statistical hypotheses we ever make are false. That is, if a hypothesis becomes specific enough to make (probabilistic) predictions, we know that with enough data we will be […]