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Archive of posts filed under the Decision Theory category.

The Mets are hiring

Des McGowan writes: We are looking to hire multiple full time analysts/senior analysts to join the Baseball Analytics department at the New York Mets. The roles will involve building, testing, and presenting statistical models that inform decision-making in all facets of Baseball Operations. These positions require a strong background in complex statistics and data analytics, […]

Statisticians don’t use statistical evidence to decide what statistical methods to use. Also, The Way of the Physicist.

David Bailey, a physicist at the University of Toronto, writes: I thought you’d be pleased to hear that a student in our Advanced Physics Lab spontaneously used Stan to analyze data with significant uncertainties in both x and y. We’d normally expect students to use python and orthogonal distance regression, and STAN is never mentioned […]

Is the right brain hemisphere more analog and Bayesian?

Oliver Schultheiss writes: I recently commented one of your posts (I forgot which one) with a reference to evidence suggesting that the right brain hemisphere may be in a better position to handle numbers and probabilistic predictions. Yesterday I came across the attached paper by Filipowicz, Anderson, & Danckert (2016) that may be of some […]

“Our underpowered trial provides no indication that X has a positive or negative effect on Y”

It’s rare to see researchers say flat-out that an experimental result leaves them uncertain. There seems to be such a temptation to either declare victory with statistical significance (setting the significance level to 0.1 if necessary to clear the bar) or to claim that weak and noisy results are “suggestive” or, conversely, to declare non-significance […]

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: 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 […]

Bayesian inference completely solves the multiple comparisons problem

I’m rerunning this one from 2016 because it came up at work recently, and I think the general topic is as important as it’s ever been. flat priors consistently give bad inferences. Or, to put it another way, the routine use of flat priors results in poor frequency properties in realistic settings where studies are […]

“Small Steps to Accuracy: Incremental Updaters are Better Forecasters”

Pavel Atanasov writes: I noticed your 2016 post on belief updating. Here is the key bit: From the perspective of the judgment and decision making literature, the challenge is integrating new information at the appropriate rate: not so fast that your predictions jump up and down like a yo-yo (the fate of naive poll-watchers) and […]

Hierarchical stacking, part II: Voting and model averaging

(This post is by Yuling) Yesterday I have advertised our new preprint on hierarchical stacking. Apart from the methodology development, perhaps I could draw some of your attention to the analogy between model averaging/selection and voting systems, which is likely to be more entertaining. Model selection = we have multiple models to fit the data and […]

My reply: Three words. Fake. Data. Simulation.

Kash Ramli writes: I am planning on running an experiment to determine whether an adaptive treatment approach to behaviour change interventions could be effective at reducing the heterogenous treatment effects currently observed in the field. The context of the experiment is providing households with social norms based feedback of their consumption (i.e. comparing your consumption […]

What about that new paper estimating the effects of lockdowns etc?

A couple people pointed me to this article, “Assessing Mandatory Stay‐at‐Home and Business Closure Effects on the Spread of COVID‐19,” which reports: The most restrictive non‐pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) for controlling the spread of COVID‐19 are mandatory stay‐at‐home and business closures. . . . We evaluate the effects on epidemic case growth of more restrictive NPIs […]

Megan Higgs (statistician) and Anna Dreber (economist) on how to judge the success of a replication

The discussion started with this comment from Megan Higgs regarding a recent science replication initiative: I [Higgs] was immediately curious about their criteria for declaring a study replicated. In a quick skim of the info in the google form, here it is: In the survey of beliefs, you will be asked for (a) the probability […]

Our ridiculous health care system, part 734

I went to get a coronavirus test today. We had to get the test for work, and I had no problem with that. What I did have a problem was with that, to get this test, I needed to make an appointment, fill out three forms and take an online “course” (clicking through a set […]

Most controversial posts of 2020

Last year we posted 635 entries on this blog. Above is a histogram of the number of comments on each of the posts. The bars are each of width 5, except that I made a special bar just for the posts with zero comments. There’s nothing special about zero here; some posts get only 1 […]

“Maybe the better analogy is that these people are museum curators and we’re telling them that their precious collection of Leonardos, which they have been augmenting at a rate of about one per month, include some fakes.”

Someone sent me a link to a recently published research paper and wrote: As far as any possible coverage on your blog goes, this one didn’t come from me, please. It just looks… baffling in a lot of different ways. OK, so it didn’t come from that person. I read the paper and replied: Oh, […]

What we did in 2020, and thanks to all our collaborators and many more

Published or to be published articles: [2021] Reflections on Lakatos’s “Proofs and Refutations.” {\em American Mathematical Monthly}. (Andrew Gelman) [2021] Holes in Bayesian statistics. {\em Journal of Physics G: Nuclear and Particle Physics}. (Andrew Gelman and Yuling Yao) [2021] Reflections on Breiman’s Two Cultures of Statistical Modeling. {\em Observational Studies}. (Andrew Gelman) [2021] Bayesian statistics […]

One dose or two? This epidemiologist suggests we should follow Bugs Bunny and go for two.

Joseph Delaney writes: I [Delaney] am starting to see the hot take of “why don’t we experiment with giving only one dose of an mRNA vaccine”. For example, see this. We briefly brought up one such argument a couple weeks ago, but only in the context of a discussion of something else.  I hadn’t looked […]

Flaxman et al. respond to criticisms of their estimates of effects of anti-coronavirus policies

As youall know, as the coronavirus has taken its path through the world, epidemiologists and social scientists have tracked rates of exposure and mortality, studied the statistical properties of the transmission of the virus, and estimated effects of behaviors and policies that have been tried to limit the spread of the disease. All this is […]

No, It’s Not a Prisoner’s Dilemma (the second in a continuing series):

The prisoner’s dilemma is the original counterintuitive hot take. Some social scientists and journalists just looove that dilemma because of how delightfully paradoxical it can be. But some situations that are described as prisoner’s dilemmas aren’t really. I discussed one such example in my article, Methodology as ideology: Some comments on Robert Axelrod’s “The Evolution […]

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 […]

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