Skip to content
Archive of entries posted by

Hierarchical modeling of excess mortality time series

Elliott writes: My boss asks me: For our model to predict excess mortality around the world, we want to calculate a confidence interval around our mean estimate for total global excess deaths. We have real excess deaths for like 60 countries, and are predicting on another 130 or so. we can easily calculate intervals for […]

The Tall T*

Saw The Tall T on video last night. It was ok, but when it comes to movies whose titles begin with that particular character string, I think The Tall Target was much better. I’d say The Tall Target is the best train movie ever, but maybe that title should go to Intolerable Cruelty, which was […]

One reason why that estimated effect of Fox News could’ve been so implausibly high.

Ethan Kaplan writes: I just happened upon a post of yours on the potential impact of Fox News on the 2016 election [“No, I don’t buy that claim that Fox news is shifting the vote by 6 percentage points“]. I am one of the authors of the first Fox News study from 2007 (DellaVigna and […]

Questions about our old analysis of police stops

I received this anonymous email: I read your seminal work on racial bias in stops with Professors Fagan and Kiss and just had a few questions. 1. Your paper analyzed stops at the precinct level. A critique I have heard regarding aggregating data at that level is that: “To say that the threshold test can […]

A recommender system for scientific papers

Jeff Leek writes: We created a web app that lets people very quickly sort papers on two axes: how interesting it is and how plausible they think it is. We started with covid papers but have plans to expand it to other fields as well. Seems like an interesting idea, a yelp-style recommender system but […]

A fill-in-the-blanks contest: Attributing the persistence of the $7.25 minimum wage to “the median voter theorem” is as silly as _______________________

My best shots are “attributing Napoleon’s loss at Waterloo to the second law of thermodynamics” or “attributing Michael Jordan’s 6 rings to the infield fly rule.” But these aren’t right at all. I know youall can do better. Background here. For some relevant data, see here, here, here, and here. P.S. I get it that […]

In making minimal corrections and not acknowledging that he made these errors, Rajan is dealing with the symptoms but not the underlying problem, which is that he’s processing recent history via conventional wisdom.

Raghuram Rajan is an academic and policy star, University of Chicago professor, former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund, and former chief economic advisor to the government of India, and featured many times in NPR and other prestige media. He also appears to be in the habit of telling purportedly data-backed stories that aren’t […]

“Do you come from Liverpool?”

Paul Alper writes: Because I used to live in Trondheim, I have a special interest in this NYT article about exercise results in Trondheim, Norway. Obviously, even without reading the article in any detail, the headline claim that The Secret to Longevity? 4-Minute Bursts of Intense Exercise May Help can be misleading and is subject […]

Conference on digital twins

Ron Kenett writes: This conference and the special issue that follows might be of interest to (some) of your blog readers. Here’s what it says there: The concept of digital twins is based on a combination of physical models that describe the machine’s behavior and its deterioration processes over time with analytics capabilities that enable […]

Which sorts of posts get more blog comments?

Paul Alper writes: Some of your blog postings elicit many responses and some, rather few. Have you ever thought of displaying some sort of statistical graph illustrating the years of data? For example, sports vs. politics, or responses for one year vs. another (time series), winter vs. summer, highly technical vs. breezy. I’ve not done […]

More on that credulity thing

I see five problems here that together form a feedback loop with bad consequences. Here are the problems: 1. Irrelevant or misunderstood statistical or econometric theory; 2. Poorly-executed research; 3. Other people in the field being loath to criticize, taking published or even preprinted claims as correct until proved otherwise; 4. Journalists taking published or […]

Rob Tibshirani, Yuling Yao, and Aki Vehtari on cross validation

Rob Tibshirani writes: About 9 years ago I emailed you about our new significance result for the lasso. You wrote about in your blog. For some reason I never saw that full blog until now. I do remember the Stanford-Berkeley Seminar in 1994 where I first presented the lasso and you asked that question. Anyway, […]

Relative vs. absolute risk reduction . . . 500 doctors want to know!

Some stranger writes: What are your thoughts on this paper? Especially the paragraph on page 6 “Similar to the critical appraisal ….. respectively”. There are many of us MD’s who are quite foxed. If you blog about it, please don’t mention my name and just say a doctor on a 500-member listserv asked you about […]

When can we challenge authority with authority?

Michael Nelson writes: I want to thank you for posting your last decade of publications in a single space and organized by topic. But I also wanted to share a critique of your argument style as exemplified in your Annals of Surgery correspondence [here and here]. While I think it’s important and valuable that you […]

What’s the biggest mistake revealed by this table? A puzzle:

This came up in our discussion the other day: It’s a table comparing averages for treatment and control groups in an experiment. There’s one big problem here (summarizing differences by p-values) and some little problems, such as reporting values to ridiculous precision (who cares if something has an average of “346.57” when its standard deviation […]

Why did it take so many decades for the behavioral sciences to develop a sense of crisis around methodology and replication?

“On or about December 1910 human character changed.” — Virginia Woolf (1924). Woolf’s quote about modernism in the arts rings true, in part because we continue to see relatively sudden changes in intellectual life, not merely from technology (email and texting replacing letters and phone calls, streaming replacing record sales, etc.) and power relations (for […]

State-level predictors in MRP and Bayesian prior

Something came up in comments today that I’d like to follow up on. In our earlier post, I brought up an example: If you’re modeling attitudes about gun control, think hard about what state-level predictors to include. My colleagues and I thought about this a bunch of years ago when doing MRP for gun-control attitudes. […]

Some issues when using MRP to model attitudes on a gun control attitude question on a 1–4 scale

Elliott Morris writes: – I want to run a MRP model predicting 4 categories of response options to a question about gun control (multinomial logit) – I want to control for demographics in the standard hierarchical way (MRP) – I want the coefficients to evolve in a random walk over time, as I have data […]

Understanding the value of bloc voting, using the Congressional Progressive Caucus as an example:

Daniel Stock writes: I’m a public policy PhD student, interested in economic policy and a bit of political science. I recently saw that the Congressional Progressive Caucus instituted bloc voting rules a few months ago: if at least two thirds of them agree on a bill or amendment, then all CPC members are bound to […]

Adjusting for differences between treatment and control groups: “statistical significance” and “multiple testing” have nothing to do with it

Jonathan Falk points us to this post by Scott Alexander entitled “Two Unexpected Multiple Hypothesis Testing Problems.” The important questions, though, have nothing to do with multiple hypothesis testing or with hypothesis testing at all. As is often the case, certain free-floating scientific ideas get in the way of thinking about the real problem. Alexander […]

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.