Author: Andrew

He wants to know what to read and what software to learn, to increase his ability to think about quantitative methods in social science

A law student writes: I aspire to become a quantitatively equipped/focused legal academic. Despite majoring in economics at college, I feel insufficiently confident in my statistical literacy. Given your publicly available work on learning basic statistical programming, I thought I would reach out to you and ask for advice on understanding modeling and causal inference […]

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All of Life is 6 to 5 Against

Donny Williams writes: I have a question I have been considering asking you for a while. The more I have learned about Bayesian methods, including regularly reading the journal Bayesian Analysis (preparing a submission here, actually!), etc., I have come to not only see that frequency properties are studied of Bayesian models, but it is […]

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Tutorial: The practical application of complicated statistical methods to fill up the scientific literature with confusing and irrelevant analyses

James Coyne pointed me with distress or annoyance to this new paper, “Tutorial: The Practical Application of Longitudinal Structural Equation Mediation Models in Clinical Trials,” by K. A. Goldsmith, D. P. MacKinnon, T. Chalder, P. D. White, M. Sharpe, and A. Pickles. This is the team behind the PACE trial for systemic exercise intolerance disease. […]

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On this 4th of July, let’s declare independence from “95%”

Plan your experiment, gather your data, do your inference for all effects and interactions of interest. When all is said and done, accept some level of uncertainty in your conclusions: you might not be 97.5% sure that the treatment effect is positive, but that’s fine. For one thing, decisions need to be made. You were […]

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PNAS forgets basic principles of game theory, thus dooming thousands of Bothans to the fate of Alderaan

Under the subject line, “I needed this information to make a go/no-go decision on my new Death Star,” Kevin Lewis points to this press release from a prestigious journal: Because versions of the below articles were previously posted online, PNAS is publishing the articles without embargo: Potential atmospheres around TRAPPIST-1 planets Simulations of stellar winds […]

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About that claim in the NYT that the immigration issue helped Hillary Clinton? The numbers don’t seem to add up.

Today I noticed an op-ed by two political scientists, Howard Lavine and Wendy Rahm, entitled, “What if Trump’s Nativism Actually Hurts Him?”: Contrary to received wisdom, however, the immigration issue did not play to Mr. Trump’s advantage nearly as much as commonly believed. According to our analysis of national survey data from the American National […]

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Flaws in stupid horrible algorithm revealed because it made numerical predictions

Kaiser Fung points to this news article by David Jackson and Gary Marx: The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is ending a high-profile program that used computer data mining to identify children at risk for serious injury or death after the agency’s top official called the technology unreliable. . . . Two Florida […]

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The Ponzi threshold and the Armstrong principle

Mark Palko writes of the Ponzi threshold: “sometimes overhyped companies that start out with viable business plans see their valuation become so inflated that, in order to meet and sustain investor expectations, they have to come up with new and increasingly fantastic longshot schemes, anything that sounds like it might possibly pay off with lottery […]

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Does “status threat” explain the 2016 presidential vote? Diana Mutz replies to criticism.

A couple months ago we reported on an article by sociologist Steve Morgan, criticizing a published paper by political scientist Diana Mutz. Mutz’s original article was called, “Status Threat, Not Economic Hardship, Explains the 2016 Presidential Vote,” and Morgan’s reply is called, “Status Threat, Material Interests, and the 2016 Presidential Vote” (it originally had the […]

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On deck through the rest of the year

July: The Ponzi threshold and the Armstrong principle Flaws in stupid horrible algorithm revealed because it made numerical predictions PNAS forgets basic principles of game theory, thus dooming thousands of Bothans to the fate of Alderaan Tutorial: The practical application of complicated statistical methods to fill up the scientific literature with confusing and irrelevant analyses […]

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Anyone want to run this Bayesian computing conference in 2022?

OK, people think I’m obsessive with a blog with a 6-month lag, but that’s nothing compared to some statistics conferences. Mylène Bédard sends this along for anyone who might be interested: The Bayesian Computation Section of ISBA is soliciting proposals to host its flagship conference: Bayes Comp 2022 The expectation is that the meeting will […]

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Problems with surrogate markers

Paul Alper points us to this article in Health News Review—I can’t figure out who wrote it—warning of problems with the use of surrogate outcomes for policy evaluation: “New drug improves bone density by 40%.” At first glance, this sounds like great news. But there’s a problem: We have no idea if this means the […]

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Francis Spufford writes just like our very own Dan Simpson and he also knows about the Australia paradox!

Golden Hill was just great—a book that truly lived up to its reviews—so when I was in the bookstore the other day and saw this book of Spufford’s collected nonfiction, I snapped it up. I was reading the chapter on Red Plenty (a book that I’ve not yet read), I was struck by how similar […]

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He has a math/science background and wants to transition to social science. Should he get a statistics degree and do social science from there, or should he get a graduate degree in social science or policy?

Someone who graduated from college a couple years ago writes: My educational background is almost entirely science and math. However, since graduating and thinking about what I do, I’ve realized that I’ve always found demographics, geography, urban planning more interesting – and I’d like to pursue research in social science. I’m currently applying to MS […]

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Yes, but did it work? Evaluating variational inference

That’s the title of a recent article by Yuling Yao, Aki Vehtari, Daniel Simpson, and myself, which presents some diagnostics for variational approximations to posterior inference: We were motivated to write this paper by the success/failure of ADVI, the automatic variational inference algorithm devised by Alp Kucukelbir et al. The success was that ADVI solved […]

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The “Psychological Science Accelerator”: it’s probably a good idea but I’m still skeptical

Asher Meir points us to this post by Christie Aschwanden entitled, “Can Teamwork Solve One Of Psychology’s Biggest Problems?”, which begins: Psychologist Christopher Chartier admits to a case of “physics envy.” That field boasts numerous projects on which international research teams come together to tackle big questions. Just think of CERN’s Large Hadron Collider or […]

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Multilevel modeling in Stan improves goodness of fit — literally.

John McDonnell sends along this post he wrote with Patrick Foley on how they used item-response models in Stan to get better clothing fit for their customers: There’s so much about traditional retail that has been difficult to replicate online. In some senses, perfect fit may be the final frontier for eCommerce. Since at Stitch […]

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