Skip to content
Archive of entries posted by

Publishing in Antarctica

This one came in the email today: Dear Gelman Andrew, I am ** from ** ** Academic Publishing, a publishing house founded in Germany in 2002. We would be interested to publish a printed book based on your research in the field of Charles Murray’s Coming Apart and the measurement of social and political divisions. […]

More on the Heckman curve

David Rea writes: A slightly more refined version of our paper on the Heckman Curve [discussed on blog last year] has been published in the Journal of Economic Surveys. The journal will also publish a response by James Heckman, as well as a reply from us. As you predicted, James Heckman’s critique of our work […]

Risk aversion is not a thing

I came across this post by Alex Tabarrok arguing that people should be given one rather than two doses of a new vaccine. I know nothing about these vaccines but my attention was drawn to this statement from Alex: We should vaccinate 6 million people with first dose NOW. It is deadly cautious to hold […]

In this particular battle between physicists and economists, I’m taking the economists’ side.

Palko writes, “When the arrogance of physicists and economists collide, it’s kind of like watching Godzilla battle Rodan . . . you aren’t really rooting for either side but you can still enjoy the show.” Hey! Some of my best friends are physicists and economists! But I know what he’s talking about. Here’s the story […]

“Inferring the effectiveness of government interventions against COVID-19”

John Salvatier points us to this article by Jan Brauner et al. that states: We gathered chronological data on the implementation of NPIs [non-pharmaceutical interventions, i.e. policy or behavioral interventions] for several European, and other, countries between January and the end of May 2020. We estimate the effectiveness of NPIs, ranging from limiting gathering sizes, […]


If you can argue that knuckleheads are rational And that assholes serve the public good, But then turn around and tell us we need you To nudge us as you know we should; If you can be proud of your “repugnant ideas” And style yourself a rogue without taboo, If you assume everyone is fundamentally […]

Deterministic thinking meets the fallacy of the one-sided bet

Kevin Lewis asked me what I thought of this news article: Could walking barefoot on grass improve your health? Some science suggests it can. . . . The idea behind grounding, also called earthing, is humans evolved in direct contact with the Earth’s subtle electric charge, but have lost that sustained connection thanks to inventions […]

You can figure out the approximate length of our blog lag now.

Sekhar Ramakrishnan writes: I wanted to relate an episode of informal probabilistic reasoning that occurred this morning, which I thought you might find entertaining. Jan 6th is the Christian feast day of the Epiphany, which is known as Dreikönigstag (Three Kings’ Day), here in Zürich, Switzerland, where I live (I work at ETH). There is […]

Debate involving a bad analysis of GRE scores

This is one of these academic ping-pong stories of a general opinion, an article that challenges the general opinion, a rebuttal to that article, a rebuttal to the rebuttal, etc. I’ll label the positions as A1, B1, A2, B2, and so forth: A1: The starting point is that Ph.D. programs in the United States typically […]

What do Americans think about coronavirus restrictions? Let’s see what the data say . . .

Back in May, I looked at a debate regarding attitudes toward coronavirus restrictions. The whole thing was kind of meta, in the sense that rather than arguing about what sorts of behavioral and social restrictions would be appropriate to control the disease at minimal cost, people were arguing about what were the attitudes held in […]

17 state attorney generals, 100 congressmembers, and the Association for Psychological Science walk into a bar

I don’t have much to add to all that’s been said about this horrible story. The statistics errors involved are pretty bad—actually commonplace in published scientific articles, but mistakes that seem recondite and technical in a paper about ESP, say, or beauty and sex ratio, become much clearer when the topic is something familiar such […]

“I Can’t Believe It’s Not Better”

Check out this session Saturday at Neurips. It’s a great idea, to ask people to speak on methods that didn’t work. I have a lot of experience with that! Here are the talks: Max Welling: The LIAR (Learning with Interval Arithmetic Regularization) is Dead Danielle Belgrave: Machine Learning for Personalised Healthcare: Why is it not […]

What about this idea of rapid antigen testing?

So, there’s this idea going around that seems to make sense, but then again if it makes so much sense I wonder why they’re not doing it already. Here’s the background. A blog commenter pointed me to this op-ed from mid-November by Michael Mina, an epidemiologist and immunologist who wrote: Widespread and frequent rapid antigen […]

“It’s turtles for quite a way down, but at some point it’s solid bedrock.”

Just once, I’d like to hear the above expression.. It can’t always be turtles all the way down, right? Cos if it was, we wouldn’t need the expression. Kind of like if everything was red, we wouldn’t need any words for colors.

What are the most important statistical ideas of the past 50 years?

Aki and I wrote this article, doing our best to present a broad perspective. We argue that the most important statistical ideas of the past half century are: counterfactual causal inference, bootstrapping and simulation-based inference, overparameterized models and regularization, multilevel models, generic computation algorithms, adaptive decision analysis, robust inference, and exploratory data analysis. These eight […]

The p-value is 4.76×10^−264 1 in a quadrillion

Ethan Steinberg writes: It might be useful for you to cover the hilariously bad use of statistics used in the latest Texas election lawsuit. Here is the raw source, with the statistics starting on page 22 under the heading “Z-Scores For Georgia”. . . . The main thing about this analysis that’s so funny is […]

Postdoc at the Polarization and Social Change Lab

Robb Willer informs us that the Polarization and Social Change Lab has an open postdoctoral position: The Postdoctoral Associate will be responsible for co-designing and leading research projects in one or more of the following areas: political polarization; framing, messaging, and persuasion; political dimensions of inequality; social movement mobilization; and online political behavior. This looks […]

“A better way to roll out Covid-19 vaccines: Vaccinate everyone in several hot zones”?

Peter Dorman writes: This [by Daniel Teres and Martin Strossberg] is an interesting proposal, no? Since vaccines are being rushed out the door with limited testing, there’s a stronger than usual case for adaptive management: implementing in a way that maximizes learning. I [Dorman] suspect there would also be large economies in distribution if localities […]

Covid crowdsourcing

Macartan Humphries writes: We put together a platform that lets researchers contribute predictive models of cross national (and within country) Covid mortality, focusing on political and social accounts. The plan then is to aggregate using a stacking approach. Go take a look.

Unlike MIT, Scientific American does the right thing and flags an inaccurate and irresponsible article that they mistakenly published. Here’s the story:

Scene 1 A few months ago I wrote about a really bad article that appeared in Undark, MIT’s science magazine. The article was so bad it lowered my opinion of MIT, my alma mater, in that it showed such poor judgment by the administration to sponsor this kind of irresponsible anti-scientific crap. MIT’s done worse […]