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What’s the purpose of mathematical modeling?

Peter Dorman writes: I think this is an example of what good science journalism looks like. The description of modeling methods and even workflow is as accurate as it could be without getting beyond the technical background of its readership. Nice graphics! I like the discussion of the tradeoff between granularity in model design and […]

Get this man a job at the Hoover Institution!

Paul Alper shares this charming/horrifying news story: Wisconsin pharmacist Steven Brandenburg who destroyed more than 500 doses of covid vaccine is a flat-Earther Steven Brandenburg, the Wisconsin pharmacist who is charged with destroying nearly 600 doses of the Moderna vaccine, also believes the Earth is flat and that the sky is not real . . […]

Pittsburgh by Frank Santoro

Last year we discussed a silly study, and that lead us to this interesting blog by Chris Gavaler, which pointed me to a recent picture storybook, Pittsburgh, by Frank Santoro. The book was excellent. I don’t have any insights to share here; I just wanted to thank Santoro for writing the book and Gavaler for […]

Meta-meta-science studies

August Wartin asks: Are you are familiar with any (economic) literature that attempts to model academia or the labor market for researchers (or similar), incorporating stuff like e.g. publication bias, researcher degrees of freedom, the garden of forking paths etcetera (and that perhaps also discusses possible proposals/mechanisms to mitigate these problems)? And perhaps you might […]

She’s thinking of buying a house, but it has a high radon measurement. What should she do?

Someone wrote in with a question: My Mom, who has health issues, is about to close on a new house in **, NJ. We just saw that ** generally is listed as an area with high radon. If the house has a radon measurement over 4 and the seller puts vents to bring it into […]

Evidence-based medicine eats itself in real time

Robert Matthews writes: This has just appeared in BMJ Evidence Based Medicine. It addresses the controversial question of whether lowering LDL using statins leads to reduced mortality and CVD rates. The researchers pull together 35 published studies, and then assess the evidence of benefit – but say a meta-analysis is inappropriate, given the heterogeneity of […]

Stan short course in July

Jonah Gabry is teaching a Stan short course! He’s done it before and I’ve heard that it’s excellent. Here’s the information: Dates: Wed Jul 14 – Fri Jul 16 Location: online Learn Bayesian Data Analysis and Stan with Stan Developer Jonah Gabry The course consists of three main themes: Bayesian inference and computation; the Stan […]

Lumley on the Alzheimer’s drug approval

Last week we discussed the FDA’s controversial approval of a new Alzheimer’s drug. Here’s more on the topic from statistician Thomas Lumley, who knows more about all of this than I do: [Cautious optimism is] a very sensible attitude, in the abstract: if the drug turns out to be effective it could be valuable, but […]

Guttman points out another problem with null hypothesis significance testing: It falls apart when considering replications.

Michael Nelson writes: Re-reading a classic from Louis Guttman, What is not what in statistics, I saw his “Problem 2” with new eyes given the modern replication debate: Both estimation and the testing of hypotheses have usually been restricted as if to one-time experiments, both in theory and in practice. But the essence of science […]

Neel Shah: modeling skewed and heavy-tailed data as approximate normals in Stan using the LambertW function

Neel Shah, one of Stan’s Google Summer of Code (GSOC) interns, writes: Over the summer, I will add LambertW transforms to Stan which enable us to model skewed and heavy-tailed data as approximate normals. This post motivates the idea and describes the theory of LambertW × Z random variables. Though the normal distribution is one […]

Wow, just wow. If you think Psychological Science was bad in the 2010-2015 era, you can’t imagine how bad it was back in 1999

Shane Frederick points us to this article from 1999, “Stereotype susceptibility: Identity salience and shifts in quantitative performance,” about which he writes: This is one of the worst papers ever published in Psych Science (which is a big claim, I recognize). It is old, but really worth a look if you have never read it. […]

Job opening at the U.S. Government Accountability Office

Sam Portnow writes: I am a statistician at the U.S. Government Accountability Office, and we are hiring for a statistician. The full job announcement is below. Personally, I think our office is a really great place to do social science research within the federal government. ———————————————————————- The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has two vacancies […]

Progress!

This came in a mass email: Statistical Horizons is excited to present Applied Bayesian Data Analysis taught by Dr. Roy Levy on Thursday, February 18–Saturday, February 20. In this seminar, you will get both a practical and theoretical introduction to Bayesian methods in just 3 days. Topics include: Model construction Specifying prior distributions Graphical representation […]

The University of California statistics department paid at least $329,619.84 to an adjunct professor who did no research, was a terrible teacher, and engaged in sexual harassment

I have one of the easy jobs at the university, well paid with pleasant working conditions. It’s not so easy for adjuncts. Ideally, an adjunct professor has a main job and teaches a course on the side, to stay connected to academia and give back something to the next generation. But in an all-too-common non-ideal […]

MRP and Missing Data Question

Andy Timm writes: I’m curious if you have any suggestions for dealing with item nonresponse when using MRP. I haven’t seen anything particularly compelling in a literature review, but it seems like this has to have come up. It seems like a surprisingly large number of papers just go for a complete cases analysis, or […]

Whassup with the FDA approval of that Alzheimer’s drug? A “disgraceful decision” or a good idea?

Andrew Klaassen writes: Any chance you’ll be weighing in on your blog on the apparently wobbly studies supporting the FDA’s approval of Aduhelm? I’m hearing angry things being said about it by the random people I know in medical research, but don’t know much beyond that. Here’s the one link on the story [by Beth […]

Bayesian forecasting challenge!

EJ writes: A student of mine—Maximilian Maier—has designed a brief Bayesian forecasting challenge. I think it’s a nice idea and we’re looking for people that will complete the task. The relevant information is here. The link to the study is here. Feel free to try it out. If you don’t like the survey, that’s fine […]

This one is for fans of George V. Higgins

I don’t think there are many remaining fans of George V. Higgins: he died 20 years ago, his popularity had been in decline for decades, and his only bestseller was his first book, in 1970, which was also made into a well-received but not particularly popular or well-remembered movie. His writing was extremely mannered, and […]

When MCMC fails: The advice we’re giving is wrong. Here’s what we you should be doing instead. (Hint: it’s all about the folk theorem.)

In applied Bayesian statistics we often use Markov chain Monte Carlo: a family of iterative algorithms that yield approximate draws from the posterior distribution. For example, Stan uses Hamiltonian Monte Carlo. One annoying thing about these iterative algorithms is that they can take awhile, but on the plus side this spins off all sorts of […]

Leaving a Doll’s House, by Claire Bloom

I read Leaving a Doll’s House, the autobiography of actress Claire Bloom, and, as promised (see P.P.P.S. here), here are my reactions. Bloom’s book is famous because of its chapters on her relationship with author Philip Roth. Actually, though, it throughly covers all her life, with a bit more than half of the book taking […]

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