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What’s your “Mathematical Comfort Food”?

Darren Glass, editor of the book review section of the American Mathematical Monthly, writes, For this month’s column, I [Glass] thought that, rather than provide an in-depth review of a new monograph, I would ask a number of members of our community about some of the “mathematical comfort food” that they have turned to or […]

Lakatos was a Stalinist

Apparently this is well known, it’s just new to me. [Actually, not so new, as this blog post has been sent to the end of the queue twice now, so it’s appearing about a year after I wrote it. — ed.] Alan Musgrave and Charles Pigden write: After a brilliant school career, during which he […]

Reflections on Lakatos’s “Proofs and Refutations”

I wrote this for the book review section of the American Mathematical Monthly. I’ll discuss the other books reviewed in tomorrow’s post, but here I wanted to share what I wrote about Lakatos’s book. And, yeah, yeah, I know from the last time this came up that many of you disagree with me on the […]

Scaling regression inputs by dividing by two standard deviations

I just had reason to reread this article from 2009, and I think it holds up just fine! Just to emphasize, I’m not saying you have to scale predictors by dividing by two standard deviations, nor am I even saying that you should do this scaling. I’m just saying that this scaling is a useful […]

Further comments on “Assessing mandatory stay‐at‐home and business closure effects on the spread of COVID‐19”

A few weeks ago we discussed a recent paper from Bendavid et al., “Assessing mandatory stay‐at‐home and business closure effects on the spread of COVID‐19.” Lonni Besançon writes: Together with Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz we found that the study was fairly limited and did not properly highlight its limitations nor did it discuss several conflicting results from […]

“Maybe we should’ve called it Arianna”

Katie Hafner wrote this obituary of Arianna Rosenbluth, original programmer of what is known as the Metropolis algorithm: Arianna Rosenbluth Dies at 93; Pioneering Figure in Data Science Dr. Rosenbluth, who received her physics Ph.D. at 21, helped create an algorithm that has became a foundation of understanding huge quantities of data. She died of […]

How to track covid using hospital data collection and MRP

Len Covello, Yajuan Si, and I write: The current way we track the prevalence of coronavirus infections is deeply flawed. Ideally, health officials would test random samples of citizens in each community in a systematic way. But throughout the pandemic, the United States has lacked the political will or funding to pursue it. Instead, testing […]

My thoughts on “What’s Wrong with Social Science and How to Fix It: Reflections After Reading 2578 Papers”

Chetan Chawla and Asher Meir point us to this post by Alvaro de Menard, who writes: Over the past year, I [Menard] have skimmed through 2578 social science papers, spending about 2.5 minutes on each one. What a great beginning! I can relate to this . . . indeed, it roughly describes my experience as […]

“Better Data Visualizations: A Guide for Scholars, Researchers, and Wonks”

Lee Wilkinson recommends this book by Jonathan Schwabish: I [Lee] think most books on “business” charts are junk, but this one is different. Schwabish does his work instead of incessantly quoting Tufte and online rants about pie charts. He’s one of the only writers on pie charts who seems to have read the research on […]

Nudgelords: Given their past track record, why should I trust them this time? (Don’t call me Stasi)

An economist who wants to remain nameless sent me an email with subject line Hilarious and with the following text: https://www.amazon.com/Averting-Catastrophe-Decision-Potential-Disasters/dp/1479808482 The link is to a listing for a forthcoming book, Averting Catastrophe: Decision Theory for COVID-19, Climate Change, and Potential Disasters of All Kinds, by Cass R. Sunstein. The book “explores how governments ought […]

How to incorporate new data into our understanding? Sturgis rally example.

A colleague writes: This is a very provocative claim about the Sturgis rally—can you do a stats “fact check”? I’m curious if this has been subjected to statistical scrutiny. I replied that I’m curious why he said this study is provocative: It makes sense that when people get together and connect nodes in the social […]

Justin Grimmer vs. the Hoover Institution commenters

I was curious what was up with the Hoover Institution so I went to their webpage and was pleased to come across a post, No Evidence For Voter Fraud: A Guide To Statistical Claims About The 2020 Election, by political scientist Justin Grimmer, with this clear summary: We focus on fraud allegations with the appearance […]

“Where in your education were you taught about intellectual honesty?”

Haynes Goddard asks: Here is the question I want to put to this blog’s readers. Where in your education were you taught about intellectual honesty? I don’t mean academic dishonesty such as cheating and plagiarism which are actively controlled. I am told it is covered in classes on critical thinking, mainly in Philosophy Depts. Where […]

The “story time” is to lull us in with a randomized controlled experiment and as we fall asleep, feed us less reliable conclusions that come from an embedded observational study.

Kaiser Fung explains. This comes up a lot, and his formulation in the above title is a good way of putting it. He also has this discussion of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine trial results which makes me want to just do a damn Bayesian analysis of it already. I’ll have to find someone with the right […]

“There ya go: preregistered, within-subject, multilevel”

Kevin Lewis points to this article, Probing Ovulatory-Cycle Shifts in Women’s Preferences for Men’s Behaviors, by Julia Stern, Tanja Gerlach, and Lars Penke: The existence of ovulatory-cycle shifts in women’s mate preferences has been a point of controversy. There is evidence that naturally cycling women in their fertile phase, compared with their luteal phase, evaluate […]

New research suggests: “Targeting interventions – including transmission-blocking vaccines – to adults aged 20-49 is an important consideration in halting resurgent epidemics and preventing COVID-19-attributable deaths.”

In recent weeks we’ve been hearing a lot about the priority of vaccinations. Should we be vaccinating older people first? Essential workers? Just vaccinate as many as possible without worrying about who gets it? Giving out the vaccine is partly about protecting people and partly about slowing the chains of transmission. The results of a […]

Will the pandemic cause a decline in births? We’ll be able to resolve this particular debate in about 9 months . . .

The fallacy of the one-sided bet I’m gonna be talking about a news article and research paper asking the question, “Will coronavirus cause a baby boom, or is that just a myth?” And my problem is the fallacy of the one-sided bet: By asking the question, is there a positive effect or is it zero, […]

The Data Detective, by Tim Harford

Economics reporter Tim Harford came out with this new book connecting three topics: – The understanding of statistical evidence and uncertainty, – The realization that lots of published and publicized social science can’t be trusted, – Our political discourse that is heavy on lies and light on trust. What Harford says makes sense: statistical reasoning […]

Social penumbras predict political attitudes

More crap from PPNAS: The political influence of a group is typically explained in terms of its size, geographic concentration, or the wealth and power of the group’s members. This article introduces another dimension, the penumbra, defined as the set of individuals in the population who are personally familiar with someone in that group. Distinct […]

About that claim that “SARS-CoV-2 is not a natural zoonosis but instead is laboratory derived”

A couple people pointed me to this article, “A Bayesian analysis concludes beyond a reasonable doubt that SARS-CoV-2 is not a natural zoonosis but instead is laboratory derived.” It is hard for me to assess this document, as the key issues involve the biology of the virus, and I don’t know anything about genetics. There […]

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