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Cornell prof (but not the pizzagate guy!) has one quick trick to getting 1700 peer reviewed publications on your CV

From the university webpage: Robert J. Sternberg is Professor of Human Development in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University. . . . Sternberg is the author of over 1700 refereed publications. . . . How did he compile over 1700 refereed publications? Nick Brown tells the story: I [Brown] was recently contacted by […]

Pizzagate: The problem’s not with the multiple analyses, it’s with the selective reporting of results (and with low-quality measurements and lack of quality control all over, but that’s not the key part of the story)

“I don’t think I’ve ever done an interesting study where the data ‘came out’ the first time I looked at it.” — Brian Wansink The funny thing is, I don’t think this quote is so bad. Nothing comes out right the first time for me either! World-renowned eating behavior expert Brian Wansink’s research has a […]

Pizzagate gets even more ridiculous: “Either they did not read their own previous pizza buffet study, or they do not consider it to be part of the literature . . . in the later study they again found the exact opposite, but did not comment on the discrepancy.”

Background Several months ago, Jordan Anaya​, Tim van der Zee, and Nick Brown reported that they’d uncovered 150 errors in 4 papers published by Brian Wansink, a Cornell University business school professor and who describes himself as a “world-renowned eating behavior expert for over 25 years.” 150 errors is pretty bad! I make mistakes myself […]

7th graders trained to avoid Pizzagate-style data exploration—but is the training too rigid?

[cat picture] Laura Kapitula writes: I wanted to share a cute story that gave me a bit of hope. My daughter who is in 7th grade was doing her science project. She had designed an experiment comparing lemon batteries to potato batteries, a 2×4 design with lemons or potatoes as one factor and number of […]

Pizzagate update! Response from the Cornell University Media Relations Office

[cat picture] Hey! A few days ago I received an email from the Cornell University Media Relations Office. As I reported in this space, I responded as follows: Dear Cornell University Media Relations Office: Thank you for pointing me to these two statements. Unfortunately I fear that you are minimizing the problem. You write, “while […]

Clarke’s Law: Any sufficiently crappy research is indistinguishable from fraud (Pizzagate edition)

[cat picture] This recent Pizzagate post by Nick Brown reminds me of our discussion of Clarke’s Law last year. P.S. I watched a couple more episodes of Game of Thrones on the plane the other day. It was pretty good! And so I continue to think this watching GoT is more valuable than writing error-ridden […]

Division of labor and a Pizzagate solution

[cat picture] I firmly believe that the general principles of social science can improve our understanding of the world. Today I want to talk about two principles—division of labor from economics, and roles from sociology—and their relevance to the Pizzagate scandal involving Brian Wansink, the Cornell University business school professor and self-described “world-renowned eating behavior […]

Pizzagate and Kahneman, two great flavors etc.

[cat picture] 1. The pizzagate story (of Brian Wansink, the Cornell University business school professor and self-described “world-renowned eating behavior expert for over 25 years”) keeps developing. Last week someone forwarded me an email from the deputy dean of the Cornell business school regarding concerns about some of Wansink’s work. This person asked me to […]

Pizzagate update: Don’t try the same trick twice or people might notice

[cat picture] I’m getting a bit sick of this one already (hence image above; also see review here from Jesse Singal) but there are a couple of interesting issues that arose in recent updates.

Pizzagate, or the curious incident of the researcher in response to people pointing out 150 errors in four of his papers

There are a bunch of things about this story that just don’t make a lot of sense to me. For those who haven’t been following the blog recently, here’s the quick backstory: Brian Wansink is a Cornell University business school professor and self-described “world-renowned eating behavior expert for over 25 years.” It’s come out that […]

“A Headline That Will Make Global-Warming Activists Apoplectic” . . . how’s that one going, Freakonomics team?

I saw this article in the newspaper today, “2020 Ties 2016 as Hottest Yet, European Analysis Shows,” and accompanied by the above graph, and this reminded me of something. A few years ago there was a cottage industry among some contrarian journalists, making use of the fact that 1998 was a particularly hot year (by […]

“End of novel. Beginning of job.”: That point at which you make the decision to stop thinking and start finishing

From a book review by the great critic John Clute:   And here’s the part I want to focus on: “End of novel. Beginning of job.“ I’ve been thinking about that line a lot recently. (I read the above review when it came out, decades ago, and I never forgot it. I was able to […]

Basbøll’s Audenesque paragraph on science writing, followed by a resurrection of a 10-year-old debate on Gladwell

I pointed Thomas Basbøll to my recent post, “Science is science writing; science writing is science,” and he in turn pointed me to his post from a few years ago, “Scientific Writing and ‘Science Writing,’” which stirringly begins: For me, 2015 will be the year that I [Basbøll] finally lost all respect for “science writing”. […]

No, I don’t believe etc etc., even though they did a bunch of robustness checks.

Dale Lehman writes: You may have noticed this article mentioned on Marginal Revolution, I [Lehman] don’t have access to the published piece, but here’s a working paper version. It might be worth your taking a look. It has all the usual culprits: forking paths, statistical significance as the filter, etc etc. As usual, it […]

An odds ratio of 30, which they (sensibly) don’t believe

Florian Wickelmaier and Katharina Naumann write: In a lab course, we came across a study on the influence of “hemispheric activation” on the framing effect in decision making by Todd McElroy and John J. Seta [Brain and Cognition 55 (2004) 572-580, doi:10.1016/j.bandc.2004.04.002]: Two experiments were conducted to determine whether the functional specializations of the left […]

2 econ Nobel prizes, 1 error

This came up before on the blog but it’s always worth remembering. From Larry White, quoted by Don Boudreaux: As late as the 1989 edition [of his textbook, Paul Samuelson] and coauthor William Nordhaus wrote: “The Soviet economy is proof that, contrary to what many skeptics had earlier believed, a socialist command economy can function […]

“MIT Built a Theranos for Plants”

This news article by Tom McKay is hilarious: The prestigious multidisciplinary MIT Media Lab built a “personal food computer” that worked so poorly that demos had to be faked Theranos-style . . . According to Business Insider, the project—a plastic hydroponic grow box filled with “advanced sensors and LED lights” that would supposedly make it […]

Getting negative about the critical positivity ratio: when you talk about throwing out the bathwater, really throw out the bathwater! Don’t try to pretend it has some value. Give it up. Let it go. You can do this and still hold on to the baby at the same time!

But maybe it’s all OK? Most of this post is a pretty negative review of a recent book, about which I will apply the well-known saying, “Your manuscript is both good and original; but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.” That said, the part […]

The flashy crooks get the headlines, but the bigger problem is everyday routine bad science done by non-crooks

In the immortal words of Michael Kinsley, the real scandal isn’t what’s illegal, the scandal is what’s legal. I was reminded of this principle after seeing this news article about the discredited Surgisphere doctor (see here for background). The news article was fine—it’s good to learn these things—but, as with pizzagate, evilicious, and other science […]

Negativity (when applied with rigor) requires more care than positivity.

Tyler Cowen writes: Avoid criticizing other public intellectuals. In fact, avoid the negative as much as possible. However pressing a social or economic issue may be, there is almost always a positive and constructive way to reframe your potential contribution. This also will force you to keep on thinking harder, because it is easier to […]