Category: Sociology

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 […]

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Let’s get hysterical

Following up on our discussion of hysteresis in the scientific community, Nick Brown points us to this article 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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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“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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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