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Pre-results review: Some results

Aleks Bogdanoski writes: I’m writing from the Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences (BITSS) at UC Berkeley with news about pre-results review, a novel form of peer review where journals review (and accept) research papers based on their methods and theory — before any results are known. Pre-results review is motivated by growing […]

What does it take to repeat them?

Olimpiu Urcan writes: Making mistakes is human, but it takes a superhuman dose of ego and ignorance to repeat them after you’ve been publicly admonished about them. Not superhuman at all, unfortunately. We see it all the time. All. The. Time. I’m reminded of the very first time I contacted newspaper columnist David Brooks to […]

Blindfold play and sleepless nights

In Edward Winter’s Chess Explorations there is the following delightful quote from the memoirs of chess player William Winter: Blindfold play I have never attempted seriously. I once played six, but spent so many sleepless nights trying to drive the positions out of my head that I gave it up. I love that. We think […]

Update on keeping Mechanical Turk responses trustworthy

This topic has come up before . . . Now there’s a new paper by Douglas Ahler, Carolyn Roush, and Gaurav Sood, who write: Amazon’s Mechanical Turk has rejuvenated the social sciences, dramatically reducing the cost and inconvenience of collecting original data. Recently, however, researchers have raised concerns about the presence of “non-respondents” (bots) or […]

Voter turnout and vote choice of evangelical Christians

Mark Palko writes, “Have you seen this?”, referring to this link to this graph: I responded: Just one of those things, I think. Palko replied: Just to be clear, I am more than willing to believe the central point about the share of the population dropping while the share of the electorate holds relatively steady, […]

Endless citations to already-retracted articles

Ken Cor and Gaurav Sood write: Many claims in a scientific article rest on research done by others. But when the claims are based on flawed research, scientific articles potentially spread misinformation. To shed light on how often scientists base their claims on problematic research, we exploit data on cases where problems with research are […]

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 […]

Healthier kids: Using Stan to get more information out of pediatric respiratory data

Robert Mahar, John Carlin, Sarath Ranganathan, Anne-Louise Ponsonby, Peter Vuillermin, and Damjan Vukcevic write: Paediatric respiratory researchers have widely adopted the multiple-breath washout (MBW) test because it allows assessment of lung function in unsedated infants and is well suited to longitudinal studies of lung development and disease. However, a substantial proportion of MBW tests in […]

Leonard Shecter’s coauthor has passed away.

I don’t really have anything to add here except to agree with Phil that Ball Four is one of the best nonfiction books ever. (And, no, I don’t consider Charlie Brown to be nonfiction.)

They’re looking to hire someone with good working knowledge of Bayesian inference algorithms development for multilevel statistical models and mathematical modeling of physiological systems.

Frederic Bois writes: We have an immediate opening for a highly motivated research / senior scientist with good working knowledge of Bayesian inference algorithms development for multilevel statistical models and mathematical modelling of physiological systems. The successful candidate will assist with the development of deterministic or stochastic methods and algorithms applicable to systems pharmacology/biology models […]

Calibrating patterns in structured data: No easy answers here.

“No easy answers” . . . Hey, that’s a title that’s pure anti-clickbait, a veritable kryptonite for social media . . . Anyway, here’s the story. Adam Przedniczek writes: I am trying to devise new or tune up already existing statistical tests assessing rate of occurrences of some bigger compound structures, but the most tricky […]

Causal inference using repeated cross sections

Sadish Dhakal writes: I am struggling with the problem of conditioning on post-treatment variables. I was hoping you could provide some guidance. Note that I have repeated cross sections, not panel data. Here is the problem simplified: There are two programs. A policy introduced some changes in one of the programs, which I call the […]

“Widely cited study of fake news retracted by researchers”

Chuck Jackson forwards this amusing story: Last year, a study was published in the Journal of Human Behavior, explaining why fake news goes viral on social media. The study itself went viral, being covered by dozens of news outlets. But now, it turns out there was an error in the researchers’ analysis that invalidates their […]

“Did Austerity Cause Brexit?”

Carsten Allefeld writes: Do you have an opinion on the soundness of this study by Thiemo Fetzer, Did Austerity Cause Brexit?. The author claims to show that support for Brexit in the referendum is correlated with the individual-level impact of austerity measures, and therefore possibly caused by them. Here’s the abstract of Fetzer’s paper: Did […]


This came up in comments the other day: I kinda like the idea of researchers inserting the word “Inshallah” at appropriate points throughout their text. “Our results will replicate, inshallah. . . . Our code has no more bugs, inshallah,” etc. Related: God is in every leaf of every tree

Collinearity in Bayesian models

Dirk Nachbar writes: We were having a debate about how much of a problem collinearity is in Bayesian models. I was arguing that it is not much of a problem. Imagine we have this model Y ~ N(a + bX1 + cX2, sigma) where X1 and X2 have some positive correlation (r > .5), they […]

If you want a vision of the future, imagine a computer, calculating the number of angels who can dance on the head of a pin—forever.

Riffing on techno-hype news articles such as An AI physicist can derive the natural laws of imagined universes, Peter Woit writes: This is based on the misconception about string theory that the problem with it is that “the calculations are too hard”. The truth of the matter is that there is no actual theory, no […]

Read this: it’s about importance sampling!

Importance sampling plays an odd role in statistical computing. It’s an old-fashioned idea and can behave just horribly if applied straight-up—but it keeps arising in different statistics problems. Aki came up with Pareto-smoothed importance sampling (PSIS) for leave-one-out cross-validation. We recently revised the PSIS article and Dan Simpson wrote a useful blog post about it […]

Reproducibility problems in the natural sciences

After reading my news article on the replication crisis, Mikael Wolfe writes: While I’m sure there is a serious issue about replication in social science experiments, what about the natural sciences? You use the term “science” even though you don’t include natural sciences in your piece. I fear that climate and other science deniers will […]

Causal inference with time-varying mediators

Adan Becerra writes to Tyler VanderWeele: I have a question about your paper “Mediation analysis for a survival outcome with time-varying exposures, mediators, and confounders” that I was hoping that you could help my colleague (Julia Ward) and me with. We are currently using Medicare claims data to evaluate the following general mediation among dialysis […]