Skip to content
Archive of entries posted by

The lawsuit that never happened (Niall Ferguson vs. Pankaj Mishra)

In searching for the immortal phrase, “piss-poor monocausal social science,” I came across this amusing story of two public intellectuals discrediting each other. But then this made wonder . . . did the lawsuit ever happen? Here’s what the headline said: Niall Ferguson threatens to sue over accusation of racism Historian claims writer Pankaj Mishra […]

Struggling to estimate the effects of policies on coronavirus outcomes

Philippe Lemoine writes: I published a blog post in which I reanalyze the results of Chernozhukov et al. (2021) on the effects of NPIs in the US during the first wave of the pandemic and, if you have time to take a look at it, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts. Here is a […]

“Infections in vaccinated Americans are rare, compared with those in unvaccinated people . . . But when they occur, vaccinated people may spread the virus just as easily.”

Dean Eckles writes: Thought you might like this example from the leaked CDC slides. One of the big claims being repeated in the media is that “Infections in vaccinated Americans are rare, compared with those in unvaccinated people, the document said. But when they occur, vaccinated people may spread the virus just as easily.” (NYT) […]

“I’m not a statistician, but . . .”

Alex Lamb writes: I’m not a statistician, but one thing I’ve noticed is that most (or all?) of the percentage change plots that I’ve seen don’t use a logarithmic scale. I think the logarithmic scale would be better, since most people are better at mentally performing addition operations, and the cumulative effect of percent-changes is […]

Claim of police shootings causing low birth weights in the neighborhood

Under the subject line, “A potentially dubious study making the rounds, re police shootings,” Gordon Danning links to this article, which begins: Police use of force is a controversial issue, but the broader consequences and spillover effects are not well understood. This study examines the impact of in utero exposure to police killings of unarmed […]

Famous people with Tourette’s syndrome

I was curious so I went over to this wikipedia page, which at the time of this writing includes: musicians/composers 12 actors/performers/motivational speakers 10 athletes 6 writers/journalists 4 politicians/activists 3 scientists 3 rich people / political commentators 2 Some of the people fell into multiple categories; for them, I picked one. It’s an interesting mix, […]

“Measuring the sensitivity of Gaussian processes to kernel choice”

Rob Trangucci points us to this paper by William Stephenson, Soumya Ghosh, Tin Nguyen, Mikhail Yurochkin, Sameer Deshpande, and Tamara Broderick. I’m posting it here because it involves GPs, so Aki should be interested too. Related ideas: Static sensitivity analysis (for example section 6.3 here) An automatic finite-sample robustness metric (by Broderick, Giordano, and Meager) […]

“Sponsored products related to this item”

I happened to look up the classic programming book Code Complete (fully, “Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction, Second Edition,” by Steve McConnell) and I learned two amusing things when scrolling down the page: 1. It says, “You last purchased this item on September 9, 2004.” Wow! I bought it, probably on Bob […]

A counterexample to the potential-outcomes model for causal inference

Something came up where I realized I was wrong. It wasn’t a mathematical error; it was a statistical model that was misleading when I tried to align it with reality. And this made me realize that there was something I was misunderstanding about potential outcomes and casual inference. And then I thought: If I’m confused, […]

Some open questions in chess

– When played optimally, is pawn race a win for white, black, or a draw? – Could I beat a grandmaster if he was down a queen? I tried playing Stockfish with it down a Q and a R, and I won easily. (Yeah!) I suspect I could beat it just starting up a queen. […]

Not-so-recently in the sister blog

The role of covariation versus mechanism information in causal attribution: Traditional approaches to causal attribution propose that information about covariation of factors is used to identify causes of events. In contrast, we present a series of studies showing that people seek out and prefer information about causal mechanisms rather than information about covariation. . . […]

The Feud

I just read the above-titled book by Alex Beam and I really enjoyed it. I’ve been a fan of Beam for a long time; he just has this wonderful equanimous style. The thing that amazes me is that the book got published at all. It’s subtitle is “Vladimir Nabokov, Edmund Wilson, and the End of […]

How to interpret inferential statistics when your data aren’t a random sample

Someone named Adam writes: I’m having a bit of a ‘crisis’ of confidence regarding inferential statistics. I’ve been reading some of the work by Stephen Gorard (e.g. “Against Inferential Statistics”) and David Freedman and Richard Berk (e.g. “Statistical Assumptions as empirical commitments”). These authors appear to be saying this: (1) Inferential statistics assume random sampling […]

A regression puzzle . . . and its solution

Alex Tabarrok writes: Here’s a regression puzzle courtesy of Advanced NFL Stats from a few years ago and pointed to recently by Holden Karnofsky from his interesting new blog, ColdTakes. The nominal issue is how to figure our whether Aaron Rodgers is underpaid or overpaid given data on salaries and expected points added per game. […]

The challenges of statistical measurement . . . in an environment where bad measurement and junk science get hyped

I liked this article by Hannah Fry about the challenges of statistical measurement. This is a topic that many statisticians have ignored, so it’s especially satisfying to see it in the popular press. Fry discusses several examples described in recent books of Deborah Stone and Tim Harford of noisy, biased, or game-able measurements. I agree […]

Default informative priors for effect sizes: Where do they come from?

To coincide with the publication of our article, A Proposal for Informative Default Priors Scaled by the Standard Error of Estimates, Erik van Zwet sends along an explainer. Here’s Erik: 1 Set-up This note is meant as a quick explainer of a set of three pre-prints at The Shrinkage Trilogy. All three have the same […]

Workflow and the role of hypothesis-free data analysis

In our discussion a couple days ago on the role of hypotheses in science, Lakeland wrote: Even “this data is relevant to the question we’re studying” is already a hypothesis. There’s no such thing as hypothesis free data analysis. I’ve sometimes said similar things, in that I like to interpret exploratory graphics as model checks, […]

Theoretical Statistics is the Theory of Applied Statistics: Two perspectives

After watching my video, Theoretical Statistics is the Theory of Applied Statistics: How to Think About What We Do, Ron Kenett points us to these articles: Conceptual Thinking in Statistics and Data Science Education: Interactive Formative Assessment with Meaning Equivalence Reusable Learning Objects (MERLO): Computer age statistics, machine learning, data science and in general, data […]

More on the role of hypotheses in science

Just to be clear before going on: when I say “hypotheses,” I’m talking about scientific hypotheses, which can at times be very specific (as in physics, with Maxwell’s equations, relativity theory) but typically have some looseness to them (a biological model of how a particular drug works, a political science model of changes in public […]

Postdoc opportunity on Bayesian prediction for human-computer interfaces! In Stuttgart!

Paul “brms” Buerkner writes: At the Cluster of Excellence SimTech in Stuttgart, Germany, we are currently looking for a fully funded PostDoc (2 years) to work on Bayesian Intent Prediction for Human-Machine Collaboration, among others supervised by me (Paul-Christian Bürkner). The goal of this specific project is to contribute to the development of a new […]

Where can you find the best CBD products? CBD gummies made with vegan ingredients and CBD oils that are lab tested and 100% organic? Click here.