Skip to content
Archive of entries posted by

The turtles stop here. Why we meta-science: a meta-meta-science manifesto

All those postscripts in the previous post . . . this sort of explanation of why I’m writing about the scientific process, it comes up a lot. I spend a lot of time thinking and writing about the research process, rather than just doing research. And all too often I often find myself taking time […]

“The good news about this episode is that it’s kinda shut up those people who were criticizing that Stanford antibody study because it was an un-peer-reviewed preprint. . . .” and a P.P.P.S. with Paul Alper’s line about the dead horse

People keep emailing me about this recently published paper, but I already said I’m not going to write about it. So I’ll mask the details. Philippe Lemoine writes: So far it seems you haven’t taken a close look at the paper yourself and I’m hoping that you will, because I’m curious to know what you […]

In Bayesian priors, why do we use soft rather than hard constraints?

Luiz Max Carvalho has a question about the prior distributions for hyperparameters in our paper, Bayesian analysis of tests with unknown specificity and sensitivity: My reply: 1. We recommend soft rather than hard constraints when we have soft rather than hard knowledge. In this case, we don’t absolutely know that spec and sens are greater […]

“The Moral Economy of Science”

In our discussion of Lorraine Daston’s “How Probabilities Came to Be Objective and Subjective,” commenter John Richters points to Daston’s 1995 article, “The Moral Economy of Science,” which is super-interesting and also something I’d never heard of before. I should really read the whole damn article and comment on everything in it, but for now […]

An open letter expressing concerns regarding the statistical analysis and data integrity of a recently published and publicized paper

James Watson prepared this open letter to **, **, **, and **, authors of ** and to ** (editor of **). The letter has approximately 96,032 signatures from approximately 6 continents. And I heard a rumor that they have contacts at the Antarctic Polar Station who are going to sign the thing once they can […]

Blast from the past

Lizzie told me about this paper, “Bidirectionality, Mediation, and Moderation of Metaphorical Effects: The Embodiment of Social Suspicion and Fishy Smells,” which reports: As expected (see Figure 1), participants who were exposed to incidental fishy smells invested less money (M = $2.53, SD = $0.93) than those who were exposed to odorless water (M = […]

This is not a post about remdesivir.

Someone pointed me to this post by a doctor named Daniel Hopkins on a site called KevinMD.com, expressing skepticism about a new study of remdesivir. I guess some work has been done following up on that trial on 18 monkeys. From the KevinMD post: On April 29th Anthony Fauci announced the National Institute of Allergy […]

Age-period-cohort analysis.

Chris Winship and Ethan Fosse write with a challenge: Since its beginnings nearly a century ago, Age-Period-Cohort analysis has been stymied by the lack of identification of parameter estimates resulting from the linear dependence between age, period, and cohort (age= period – cohort). In a series of articles, we [Winship and Fosse] have developed a […]

Last post on hydroxychloroquine (perhaps)

James “not this guy” Watson writes: The Lancet study has already been consequential, for example, the WHO have decided to remove the hydroxychloroquine arm from their flagship SOLIDARITY trial. Thanks in part to the crowdsourcing of data sleuthing on your blog, I have an updated version of doubts concerning the data reliability/veracity. 1/ Ozzy numbers: […]

Alexey Guzey’s sleep deprivation self-experiment

Alexey “Matthew Walker’s ‘Why We Sleep’ Is Riddled with Scientific and Factual Errors” Guzey writes: I [Guzey] recently finished my 14-day sleep deprivation self experiment and I ended up analyzing the data I have only in the standard p < 0.05 way and then interpreting it by writing explicitly about how much I believe I […]

This controversial hydroxychloroquine paper: What’s Lancet gonna do about it?

Peer review is not a form of quality control In the past month there’s been a lot of discussion of the flawed Stanford study of coronavirus prevalence—it’s even hit the news—and one thing came up was that the article under discussion was just a preprint—it wasn’t even peer reviewed! For example, in a NYT op-ed: […]

Be careful when estimating years of life lost: quick-and-dirty estimates of attributable risk are, well, quick and dirty.

Peter Morfeld writes: Global burden of disease (GBD) studies and environmental burden of disease (EBD) studies are supported by hundreds of scientifically well-respected co-authors, are published in high level journals, are cited world wide and have a large impact on health institutions‘ reports and related political discussions. The main metrics used to calculate the impact […]

Hydroxychloroquine update

Following up on our earlier post, James “not the cancer cure guy” Watson writes: I [Watson] wanted to relay a few extra bits of information that have come to light over the weekend. The study only has 4 authors which is weird for a global study in 96,000 patients (and no acknowledgements at the end […]

Doubts about that article claiming that hydroxychloroquine/chloroquine is killing people

James Watson (no, not the one who said that cancer would be cured by 2000, and not this guy either) writes: You may have seen the paper that came out on Friday in the Lancet on hydroxychloroquine/chloroquine in COVID19 hospitalised patients. It’s got quite a lot of media attention already. This is a retrospective study […]

“Banishing ‘Black/White Thinking’: A Trio of Teaching Tricks”

Richard Born writes: The practice of arbitrarily thresholding p values is not only deeply embedded in statistical practice, it is also congenial to the human mind. It is thus not sufficient to tell our students, “Don’t do this.” We must vividly show them why the practice is wrong and its effects detrimental to scientific progress. […]

Create your own community (if you need to)

Back in 1991 I went to a conference of Bayesians and I was disappointed that the vast majority seem to not be interested in checking their statistical models. The attitude seemed to be, first, that model checking was not possible in a Bayesian context, and, second, that model checking was illegitimate because models were subjective. […]

New report on coronavirus trends: “the epidemic is not under control in much of the US . . . factors modulating transmission such as rapid testing, contact tracing and behavioural precautions are crucial to offset the rise of transmission associated with loosening of social distancing . . .”

Juliette Unwin et al. write: We model the epidemics in the US at the state-level, using publicly available death data within a Bayesian hierarchical semi-mechanistic framework. For each state, we estimate the time-varying reproduction number (the average number of secondary infections caused by an infected person), the number of individuals that have been infected and […]

But the top graph looked like such strong evidence!

I just posted this a few hours ago, but it’s such an important message that I’d like to post it again. Actually, maybe we should just post nothing but the above graph every day, over and over again, for the next 20 years. This is hugely important, one of the most important things we need […]

Some thoughts on another failed replication in psychology

Joe Simmons and Leif Nelson write: We report our attempt to replicate a study in a recently published Journal of Marketing Research (JMR) article entitled, “Having Control Over and Above Situations: The Influence of Elevated Viewpoints on Risk Taking”. The article’s abstract summarizes the key result: “consumers’ views of scenery from a high physical elevation […]

OK, here’s a hierarchical Bayesian analysis for the Santa Clara study (and other prevalence studies in the presence of uncertainty in the specificity and sensitivity of the test)

After writing some Stan programs to analyze that Santa Clara coronavirus antibody study, I thought it could be useful to write up what we did more formally so that future researchers could use these methods more easily. So Bob Carpenter and I wrote an article, Bayesian analysis of tests with unknown specificity and sensitivity: When […]