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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 […]

Votes vs. $

Carlos Cruz writes:

“I’m sick on account I just ate a TV dinner.”

I recently read “The Shadow in the Garden,” a book by James Atlas that’s a mix of memoir about his experiences as a biographer of poet Delmore Schwartz and novelist Saul Bellow, and various reflections and anecdotes about biography-writing more generally. I enjoyed the book so much that I’m pretty much just gonna have a […]

The real lesson learned from those academic hoaxes: a key part of getting a paper published in a scholarly journal is to be able to follow the conventions of the journal. And some people happen to be good at that, irrespective of the content of the papers being submitted.

I wrote this email to a colleague: Someone pointed me to this paper. It’s really bad. It was published by The Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, “the official journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists and the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.” Is this a real organization? The whole thing […]

They misreport their experiments and don’t fess up when they’ve been caught.

Javier Benitez points us to this paper, “COMPare: Qualitative analysis of researchers’ responses to critical correspondence on a cohort of 58 misreported trials,” by Ben Goldacre, Henry Drysdale, Cicely Marston, Kamal Mahtani, Aaron Dale, Ioan Milosevic, Eirion Slade, Philip Hartley and Carl Heneghan, who write: Discrepancies between pre-specified and reported outcomes are an important and […]

Did that “bottomless soup bowl” experiment ever happen?

I’m trying to figure out if Brian “Pizzagate” Wansink’s famous “bottomless soup bowl” experiment really happened. Way back when, everybody thought the experiment was real. After all, it was described in a peer-reviewed journal article. Here’s my friend Seth Roberts in 2006: An experiment in which people eat soup from a bottomless bowl? Classic! Or […]

What’s published in the journal isn’t what the researchers actually did.

David Allison points us to these two letters: Alternating Assignment was Incorrectly Labeled as Randomization, by Bridget Hannon, J. Michael Oakes, and David Allison, in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Change in study randomization allocation needs to be included in statistical analysis: comment on ‘Randomized controlled trial of weight loss versus usual care on telomere […]

Gigerenzer: “The Bias Bias in Behavioral Economics,” including discussion of political implications

Gerd Gigerenzer writes: Behavioral economics began with the intention of eliminating the psychological blind spot in rational choice theory and ended up portraying psychology as the study of irrationality. In its portrayal, people have systematic cognitive biases that are not only as persistent as visual illusions but also costly in real life—meaning that governmental paternalism […]

And, if we really want to get real, let’s be open to the possibility that the effect is positive for some people in some scenarios, and negative for other people in other scenarios, and that in the existing state of our knowledge, we can’t say much about where the effect is positive and where it is negative.

Javier Benitez points us to this op-ed, “Massaging data to fit a theory is not the worst research sin,” where philosopher Martin Cohen writes: The recent fall from grace of the Cornell University food marketing researcher Brian Wansink is very revealing of the state of play in modern research. Wansink had for years embodied the […]

If this article portrays things accurately, the nutrition literature is in even worse shape than I thought

Forget Pizzagate. This is the stuff we really care about. John Ioannidis writes: Assuming the meta-analyzed evidence from cohort studies represents life span–long causal associations, for a baseline life expectancy of 80 years, eating 12 hazelnuts daily (1 oz) would prolong life by 12 years (ie, 1 year per hazelnut) [1], drinking 3 cups of […]

“Six Signs of Scientism”: where I disagree with Haack

I came across this article, “Six Signs of Scientism,” by philosopher Susan Haack from 2009. I think I’m in general agreement with Haack’s views—science has made amazing progress over the centuries but “like all human enterprises, science is ineradicably is fallible and imperfect. At best its progress is ragged, uneven, and unpredictable; moreover, much scientific […]