A linguist pointed me with incredulity to this article by Horst Feldmann, “Do Linguistic Structures Affect Human Capital? The Case of Pronoun Drop,” which begins: This paper empirically studies the human capital effects of grammatical rules that permit speakers to drop a personal pronoun when used as a subject of a sentence. By de‐emphasizing the […]

# Category: Teaching

## “Incentives to Learn”: How to interpret this estimate of a varying treatment effect?

Germán Jeremias Reyes writes: I am currently taking a course on Applied Econometrics and would like to ask you about how you would interpret a particular piece of evidence. Some background: In 2009, Michael Kremer et al. published an article called “Incentives to learn.” This is from the abstract (emphasis is mine): We study a […]

## Lessons about statistics and research methods from that racial attitudes example

Yesterday we shared some discussions of recent survey results on racial attitudes. For students and teachers of statistics or research methods, I think the key takeaway should be that you don’t want to pull out just one number from a survey; you want to get the big picture by looking at multiple questions, multiple years, […]

## David Weakliem on the U.S. electoral college

The sociologist and public opinion researcher has a series of excellent posts here, here, and here on the electoral college. Here’s the start: The Electoral College has been in the news recently. I [Weakliem] am going to write a post about public opinion on the Electoral College vs. popular vote, but I was diverted into […]

## Ben Lambert. 2018. A Student’s Guide to Bayesian Statistics.

Ben Goodrich, in a Stan forums survey of Stan video lectures, points us to the following book, which introduces Bayes, HMC, and Stan: Ben Lambert. 2018. A Student’s Guide to Bayesian Statistics. SAGE Publications. If Ben Goodrich is recommending it, it’s bound to be good. Amazon reviewers seem to really like it, too. You may […]

## Markov chain Monte Carlo doesn’t “explore the posterior”

First some background, then the bad news, and finally the good news. Spoiler alert: The bad news is that exploring the posterior is intractable; the good news is that we don’t need to. Sampling to characterize the posterior There’s a misconception among Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) practitioners that the purpose of sampling is to […]

## error bars [reposted]

A definitely brilliant entry on xkcd that reflects upon the infinite regress of producing error evaluations that are based on estimates. A must for the next class when I introduce error bars and confidence intervals!

## Kevin Lewis has a surefire idea for a project for the high school Science Talent Search

Here’s his idea: If I were a student, I’d do a study on how Science Talent Search judges are biased. That way, they can’t reject it, otherwise it’s self-confirming. That’s a great idea! Maybe it’s possible to go meta on this one by adding some sort of game-theoretic model or simulation of talent search submission […]

## Statmodeling Retro

As many of you know, this blog auto-posts on twitter. That’s cool. But we also have 15 years of old posts with lots of interesting content and discussion! So I had this idea of setting up another twitter feed, Statmodeling Retro, that would start with our very first post in 2004 and then go forward, […]

## Geoff Pullum, the linguist who hates Strunk and White, is speaking at Columbia this Friday afternoon

The title of the talk is Grammar, Writing Style, and Linguistics, and here’s the abstract: Some critics seem to think that English grammar is just a brief checklist of linguistic table manners that every educated person should already know. Others see grammar as a complex, esoteric, and largely useless discipline replete with technical terms that […]

## Book reading at Ann Arbor Meetup on Monday night: Probability and Statistics: a simulation-based introduction

The Talk I’m going to be previewing the book I’m in the process of writing at the Ann Arbor R meetup on Monday. Here are the details, including the working title: Probability and Statistics: a simulation-based introduction Bob Carpenter Monday, February 18, 2019 Ann Arbor SPARK, 330 East Liberty St, Ann Arbor I’ve been to […]

## I’m getting the point

A long-winded X validated discussion on the [textbook] mean-variance conjugate posterior for the Normal model left me [mildly] depressed at the point and use of answering questions on this forum. Especially as it came at the same time as a catastrophic outcome for my mathematical statistics exam. Possibly an incentive to quit X validated as […]

## I’m getting the point

A long-winded X validated discussion on the [textbook] mean-variance conjugate posterior for the Normal model left me [mildly] depressed at the point and use of answering questions on this forum. Especially as it came at the same time as a catastrophic outcome for my mathematical statistics exam. Possibly an incentive to quit X validated as […]

## 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 […]

## Wanted: Statistics-related research projects for high school students

So. I sometimes get contacted by high school students who want to work on research projects involving statistics or social science. I’ve supervised several such students, and what works best is when they have their own idea, and I can read what they’ve written and give comments. I’m more of a sounding board than anything […]

## One more reason to remove letters of recommendation when evaluating candidates for jobs or scholarships.

This is just one more sexual harassment story, newsworthy only in the man-bites-dog sense. But it reminded me of something that gets discussed from time to time, which is that we should stop using letters of recommendation to evaluate candidates for jobs or scholarships. Here’s a list of hoops that people recommend you jump through. […]

## unbiased estimators that do not exist

When looking at questions on X validated, I came across this seemingly obvious request for an unbiased estimator of P(X=k), when X~B(n,p). Except that X is not observed but only Y~B(s,p) with s<n. Since P(X=k) is a polynomial in p, I was expecting s…

## Storytelling: What’s it good for?

A story can be an effective way to send a message. Anna Clemens explains: Why are stories so powerful? To answer this, we have to go back at least 100,000 years. This is when humans started to speak. For the following roughly 94,000 years, we could only use spoken words to communicate. Stories helped us […]

## Coursera course on causal inference from Michael Sobel at Columbia

Here’s the description: This course offers a rigorous mathematical survey of causal inference at the Master’s level. Inferences about causation are of great importance in science, medicine, policy, and business. This course provides an introduction to the statistical literature on causal inference that has emerged in the last 35-40 years and that has revolutionized the […]

## MRP (multilevel regression and poststratification; Mister P): Clearing up misunderstandings about

Someone pointed me to this thread where I noticed some issues I’d like to clear up: David Shor: “MRP itself is like, a 2009-era methodology.” Nope. The first paper on MRP was from 1997. And, even then, the component pieces were not new: we were just basically combining two existing ideas from survey sampling: regression […]

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