Category: Sociology

(People are missing the point on Wansink, so) what’s the lesson we should be drawing from this story?

People pointed me to various recent news articles on the retirement from the Cornell University business school of eating-behavior researcher and retraction king Brian Wansink. I particularly liked this article by David Randall—not because he quoted me, but because he crisply laid out the key issues: The irreproducibility crisis cost Brian Wansink his job. Over […]

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Post-publication peer review: who’s qualified?

Gabriel Power writes: I don’t recall that you addressed this point in your posts on post-publication peer review [for example, here and here — ed.]. Who would be allowed to post reviews of a paper? Anyone? Only researchers? Only experts? Science is not a democracy. A study is not valid because a majority of people […]

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High-profile statistical errors occur in the physical sciences too, it’s not just a problem in social science.

In an email with subject line, “Article full of forking paths,” John Williams writes: I thought you might be interested in this article by John Sabo et al., which was the cover article for the Dec. 8 issue of Science. The article is dumb in various ways, some of which are described in the technical […]

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Echo Chamber Incites Online Mob to Attack Math Profs

The story starts as follows: There’s evidence for greater variability in the distribution of men, compared to women, in various domains. Two math professors, Theodore Hill and Sergei Tabachnikov, wrote an article exploring a mathematical model for the evolution of this difference in variation, and send the article to the Mathematical Intelligencer, a magazine that […]

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Researchers.one: A souped-up Arxiv with pre- and post-publication review

Harry Crane and Ryan Martin write: I’m writing to call your attention to a new peer review and publication platform, called RESEARCHERS.ONE, that I have recently launched with Ryan Martin. The platform can be found at https://www.researchers.one. Given past discussions I’ve seen on your website, I think this new platform might interest you and your […]

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What if a big study is done and nobody reports it?

Paul Alper writes: Your blog often contains criticisms of articles which get too much publicity. Here is an instance of the obverse (inverse? reverse?) where a worthy publication dealing with a serious medical condition is virtually ignored. From Michael Joyce at the ever-reliable and informative Healthnewsreview.org: Prostate cancer screening: massive study gets minimal coverage. Why? […]

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Against Winner-Take-All Attribution

This is the anti-Wolfram. I did not design or write the Stan language. I’m a user of Stan. Lots of people designed and wrote Stan, most notably Bob Carpenter (designed the language and implemented lots of the algorithms), Matt Hoffman (came up with the Nuts algorithm), and Daniel Lee (put together lots of the internals […]

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“Identification of and correction for publication bias,” and another discussion of how forking paths is not the same thing as file drawer

Max Kasy and Isaiah Andrews sent along this paper, which begins: Some empirical results are more likely to be published than others. Such selective publication leads to biased estimates and distorted inference. This paper proposes two approaches for identifying the conditional probability of publication as a function of a study’s results, the first based on […]

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In statistics, we talk about uncertainty without it being viewed as undesirable

Lauren Kennedy writes: I’ve noticed that statistics (or at least applied statistics) has this nice ability to talk about uncertainty without it being viewed as undesirable. Stan Con had that atmosphere and I think it just makes everyone so much more willing to debug, discuss and generate new ideas. Indeed, in statistics I’ve seen fierce […]

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Who spends how much, and on what?

Nathan Yau (link from Dan Hirschman) constructed the above excellent visualization of data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey. Lots of interesting things here. The one thing that surprises me is that people (or maybe it’s households) making more than $200,000 only spent an average of $160,000. I guess the difference is taxes, savings (but not […]

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Who spends how much, and on what?

Nathan Yau (link from Dan Hirschman) constructed the above excellent visualization of data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey. Lots of interesting things here. The one thing that surprises me is that people (or maybe it’s households) making more than $200,000 only spent an average of $160,000. I guess the difference is taxes, savings (but not […]

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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. […]

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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, which reports: A large, multinational (N = 926,383) dataset was used to examine sex differences in Big Five facet scores for 70 countries. Difference scores were aggregated to a multivariate effect […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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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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 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 […]

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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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