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Archive of posts filed under the Decision Theory category.

Not-so-recently in the sister blog

The role of covariation versus mechanism information in causal attribution: Traditional approaches to causal attribution propose that information about covariation of factors is used to identify causes of events. In contrast, we present a series of studies showing that people seek out and prefer information about causal mechanisms rather than information about covariation. . . […]

Webinar: A Gaussian Process Model for Response Time in Conjoint Surveys

This post is by Eric. This Wednesday, at 11:30 am ET, Elea Feit is stopping by to talk to us about her recent work on Conjoint models fit using GPs. You can register here. Abstract Choice-based conjoint analysis is a widely-used technique for assessing consumer preferences. By observing how customers choose between alternatives with varying […]

Several postdoc, research fellow, and doctoral student positions in Aalto/Helsinki, Finland

This job ad is by Aki Aalto University, University of Helsinki, and Finnish Center for Artificial Intelligence have a great probabilistic modeling community, and we’re looking for several postdocs, research fellows and doctoral students with topics including a lot of Bayesian statistics. I’m looking for a postodc and doctoral student to work on Bayesian workflow […]

“Test & Roll: Profit-Maximizing A/B Tests” by Feit and Berman

Elea McDonnell Feit and Ron Berman write: Marketers often use A/B testing as a tool to compare marketing treatments in a test stage and then deploy the better-performing treatment to the remainder of the consumer population. While these tests have traditionally been analyzed using hypothesis testing, we re-frame them as an explicit trade-off between the […]

Against either/or thinking, part 978

This one’s no big deal but it annoys me nonetheless. From Andrew Ross Sorkin in the New York Times: There will be academic case studies on the mania around GameStop’s stock. There will be philosophical debates about whether this was a genuine protest against hedge funds and inequality or a pump-and-dump scheme masquerading as a […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Webinar: Theories of Inference for Data Interactions

This post is by Eric. This Thursday, at 12 pm ET, Jessica Hullman is stopping by to talk to us about theories of inference for data interactions. You can register here. Abstract Research and development in computer science and statistics have produced increasingly sophisticated software interfaces for interactive and exploratory analysis, optimized for easy pattern […]

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 […]


Gary Smith points us to this news article: Geoffrey Hinton is a legendary computer scientist . . . Naturally, people paid attention when Hinton declared in 2016, “We should stop training radiologists now, it’s just completely obvious within five years deep learning is going to do better than radiologists.” The US Food and Drug Administration […]

Still cited only 3 times

I had occasion to refer to this post from a couple years ago on the anthropic principle in statistics. In that post, I wrote: I actually used the anthropic principle in my 2000 article, Should we take measurements at an intermediate design point? (a paper that I love; but I just looked it up and […]

A fun activity for your statistics class: One group of students comes up with a stochastic model for a decision process and simulates fake data from this model; another group of students takes this simulated dataset and tries to learn about the underlying process.

Benjamin Jarvis writes: I’m (re-)developing a course about discrete choice analysis, and I would like to build on data examples you use in your book with Jennifer Hill. In particular, I would like to include lessons about the conditional logistic regression model, aka McFadden’s multinomial logit. I was hoping students could extend the Bangladesh well-switching […]

New book coming out by Fischer Black!

Gur Huberman has the scoop. At first I was surprised to hear about this, but then I looked up Black on Wikipedia and, hey, he’s only 83, so why not write a book. He also got some prominent academics to promote it, so that’s cool.

When are Bayesian model probabilities overconfident?

Oscar Oelrich, Shutong Ding, Måns Magnusson, Aki Vehtari, and Mattias Villani write: Bayesian model comparison is often based on the posterior distribution over the set of compared models. This distribution is often observed to concentrate on a single model even when other measures of model fit or forecasting ability indicate no strong preference. Furthermore, a […]

Formalizing questions about feedback loops from model predictions

This is Jessica. Recently I asked a question about when a model developer should try to estimate the relationship between model predictions and the observed behavior that results when people have access to the model predictions. Kenneth Tay suggested a recent machine learning paper on Performative Prediction by Juan Perdomo Tijana Zrnic. Celestine Mendler-Dunner and […]

Raymond Smullyan on Ted Cruz, Al Sharpton, and those scary congressmembers

Palko shares this fun logic puzzle from the great Raymond Smullyan which also has obvious implications for modern politics: Inspector Craig of Scotland Yard was called to Transylvania to solve some cases of vampirism. Arriving there, he found the country inhabited both by vampires and humans. Vampires always lie and humans always tell the truth. […]

Open data and quality: two orthogonal factors of a study

It’s good for a study to have open data, and it’s good for the study to be high quality. If for simplicity we dichotomize these variables, we can find lots of examples in all four quadrants: – Unavailable data, low quality: The notorious ESP paper from 2011 and tons of papers published during that era […]

“Prediction Markets in a Polarized Society”

Rajiv Sethi writes about some weird things in election prediction markets, such as Donald Trump being given a one-in-eight chance of being the election winner . . . weeks after he’d lost the election. Sethi writes: There’s a position size limit of $850 dollars per contract in this market, which also happens to have hit […]

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