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Meet the 1 doctor in America who has no opinion on whether cigarette smoking contributes to lung cancer in human beings.

Paul Alper writes: In your blog today you once again criticize Tol’s putative results regarding global warming: “At no point did Tol apologize or thank the people who pointed out his errors; instead he lashed out, over and over again. Irresponsible indeed.” Well, here is something far more irresponsible and depressing. Read Susan Perry: Why […]

“Poor Smokers in New York State Spend 25% of Income on Cigarettes, Study Finds”

Jeff points me to this news article and asks, Can this be right? Hmmm . . . the article defines “wealthier smokers” as “those earning 60,000 or more.” So suppose a “low-income smoker” makes $20K, then 25% is $5000, which is $100 a week, or $14/day, which according to the article is roughly the cost […]

Note to “Cigarettes”

To the person who posted an apparently non-spam comment with a URL link to a “cheap cigarettes” website: In case you’re wondering, no, your comment didn’t get caught by the spam filter–I’m not sure why not, given that URL. I put it in the spam file manually. If you’d like to participate in blog discussion […]

Darrell Huff (4) vs. Monty Python; Frank Sinatra advances

In yesterday’s battle of the Jerseys, Jonathan offered this comment: Sinatra is an anagram of both artisan and tsarina. Apgar has no English anagram. Virginia is from New Jersey. Sounds confusing. And then we got this from Dzhaughn: I got as far as “Nancy’s ancestor,” and then a Youtube clip of Joey Bishop told me, […]

What to think about this new study which says that you should limit your alcohol to 5 drinks a week?

Someone who wishes to remain anonymous points us to a recent article in the Lancet, “Risk thresholds for alcohol consumption: combined analysis of individual-participant data for 599 912 current drinkers in 83 prospective studies,” by Angela Wood et al., that’s received a lot of press coverage; for example: Terrifying New Study Breaks Down Exactly How Drinking […]

“Fudged statistics on the Iraq War death toll are still circulating today”

Mike Spagat shares this story entitled, “Fudged statistics on the Iraq War death toll are still circulating today,” which discusses problems with a paper published in a scientific journal in 2006, and errors that a reporter inadvertently included in a recent news article. Spagat writes: The Lancet could argue that if [Washington Post reporter Philip] […]

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 […]

43 is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do

Peter Hickman writes: I am a research assistant for an economist, and I just came across something that seems to me to be poor research that is getting media coverage. The Cigna study is here. It’s measuring the degree of loneliness in America. You can click “read the full report” for more details. If you […]

How to think about the risks from low doses of radon

Nick Stockton, a reporter for Wired magazine, sent me some questions about radiation risk and radon, and Phil and I replied. I thought our responses might be of general interest so I’m posting them here. First I wrote: Low dose risk is inherently difficult to estimate using epidemiological studies. I’ve seen no evidence that risk […]

Learning from and responding to statistical criticism

In 1960, Irwin Bross, “a public-health advocate and biostatistician . . . known for challenging scientific dogmas” published an article called “Statistical Criticism.” Here it is. A few months ago, Dylan Small, editor of the journal Observational Studies, invited various people including me to write a comment on Bross’s article. Here’s what I wrote: Irwin […]

When people proudly take ridiculous positions

Tom Wolfe on evolution: I think it’s misleading to say that human beings evolved from animals. I mean, actually, nobody knows whether they did or not. This is just sad. Does Wolfe really think this? My guess is he’s trying to do a solid for his political allies. Jerry Coyne writes: Somewhere on his mission […]

When does research have active opposition?

[cat picture] A reporter was asking me the other day about the Brian Wansink “pizzagate” scandal. The whole thing is embarrassing for journalists and bloggers who’ve been reporting on this guy’s claims entirely uncritically for years. See here, for example. Or here and here. Or here, here, here, and here. Or here. Or here, here, […]

Blind Alley

[cat picture] Paul Alper points in a comment to an excellent news article by James Glanz and Agustin Armendariz: Dr. Carlo Croce is among the most prolific scientists in an emerging area of cancer research . . . a member of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Croce has parlayed his decades-long pursuit of cancer […]

Ethics and statistics

For a few years now, I’ve been writing a column in Chance. Below are the articles so far. This is by no means an exhaustive list of my writings on ethics and statistics but at least I thought it could help to collect these columns in one place. Ethics and statistics: Open data and open […]

Will transparency damage science?

Jonathan Sterne sent me this opinion piece by Stephan Lewandowsky and Dorothy Bishop, two psychology researchers who express concern that the movement for science and data transparency has been abused. It would be easy for me to dismiss them and take a hard-line pro-transparency position—and I do take a hard-line pro-transparency position—but, as they remind […]

Top posts of 2015

Here they are: What to think about in 2015: How can the principles of statistical quality control be applied to statistics education Stethoscope as weapon of mass distraction “Why continue to teach and use hypothesis testing?” Relaxed plagiarism standards as a way to keep the tuition dollars flowing from foreign students What to do in […]

Top 5 movies about scientists

In this NYT interview, Philip “Stanford Prison Experiment” Zimbardo gives his list: 1. “Madame Curie,” 1943 2. “The Seven-Per-Cent Solution,” 1976 3. “Awakenings,” 1990 4. “The Insider,” 1999 5. “The Imitation Game,” 2014. Not a very impressive list. But that’s the point, I guess: there haven’t been many good movies about scientists. I was racking […]

Ta-Nehisi Coates, David Brooks, and the “Street Code” of Journalism

In my latest Daily Beast column, I decide to be charitable to the factually-challenged NYT columnist: From our perspective, Brooks’s refusal to admit error makes him look like a buffoon. But maybe we’re just judging him based on the norms of another culture. . . . From our perspective, Brooks spreading anti-Semitic false statistics in […]

On deck this week

Mon: Mars Missions are a Scam Tues: What do you learn from p=.05? This example from Carl Morris will blow your mind. Wed: Here’s a theoretical research project for you Thurs: In that article, they forgot to mention that Ludmerer is one of the 5 doctors in America who has no opinion on whether cigarette […]

On deck through the rest of 2015

There’s something for everyone! I had a lot of fun just copying the titles to make this list, as I’d already forgotten about a lot of this stuff. Here are the scheduled posts, in order through 31 Dec: Fitting models with discrete parameters in Stan How to use lasso etc. in political science? An unconvincing […]