Skip to content
Archive of posts filed under the Decision Theory category.

$ vs. votes

Carlos Cruz writes: Here’s an economics joke. Two economists are walking along when they happen to end up in front of a Tesla showroom. One economist points to a shiny new car and says, “I want that!” The other economist replies, “You’re lying.” The premise of this joke is that if the one economist had […]

“She also observed that results from smaller studies conducted by NGOs – often pilot studies – would often look promising. But when governments tried to implement scaled-up versions of those programs, their performance would drop considerably.”

Robert Wiblin writes: If we have a study on the impact of a social program in a particular place and time, how confident can we be that we’ll get a similar result if we study the same program again somewhere else? Dr Eva Vivalt . . . compiled a huge database of impact evaluations in […]

“Using numbers to replace judgment”

Julian Marewski and Lutz Bornmann write: In science and beyond, numbers are omnipresent when it comes to justifying different kinds of judgments. Which scientific author, hiring committee-member, or advisory board panelist has not been confronted with page-long “publication manuals”, “assessment reports”, “evaluation guidelines”, calling for p-values, citation rates, h-indices, or other statistics in order to […]

Watch out for naively (because implicitly based on flat-prior) Bayesian statements based on classical confidence intervals! (Comptroller of the Currency edition)

Laurent Belsie writes: An economist formerly with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau wrote a paper on whether a move away from forced arbitration would cost credit card companies money. He found that the results are statistically insignificant at the 95 percent (and 90 percent) confidence level. But the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency […]

“Statistical and Machine Learning forecasting methods: Concerns and ways forward”

Roy Mendelssohn points us to this paper by Spyros Makridakis, Evangelos Spiliotis, and Vassilios Assimakopoulos, which begins: Machine Learning (ML) methods have been proposed in the academic literature as alternatives to statistical ones for time series forecasting. Yet, scant evidence is available about their relative performance in terms of accuracy and computational requirements. The purpose […]

“Evidence-Based Practice Is a Two-Way Street” (video of my speech at SREE)

Here’s the talk I gave a few months ago at the Society of Research on Educational Effectiveness. Enjoy.

What does it mean to talk about a “1 in 600 year drought”?

Patrick Atwater writes: Curious to your thoughts on a bit of a statistical and philosophical quandary. We often make statements like this drought was a 1 in 400 year event but what do we really mean when we say that? In California for example there was an oft repeated line that the recent historic drought was […]

The AAA tranche of subprime science, revisited

Tom Daula points us to this article, “Mortgage-Backed Securities and the Financial Crisis of 2008: A Post Mortem,” by Juan Ospina and Harald Uhlig. Not our usual topic at this blog, but then there’s this bit on page 11: We break down the analysis by market segment defined by loan type (Prime, Alt-A, and Subprime). […]

The Golden Rule of Nudge

Nudge unto others as you would have them nudge unto you. Do not recommend to apply incentives to others that you would not want for yourself. Background I was reading this article by William Davies about Britain’s Kafkaesque immigration policies. The background, roughly, is this: Various English politicians promised that the net flow of immigrants […]

Perhaps you could try a big scatterplot with one dot per dataset?

Joe Nadeau writes: We are studying variation in both means and variances in metabolic conditions. We have access to nearly 200 datasets that involve a range of metabolic traits and vary in sample size, mean effects, and variance. Some traits differ in mean but not variance, others in variance but not mean, still others in […]

A potential big problem with placebo tests in econometrics: they’re subject to the “difference between significant and non-significant is not itself statistically significant” issue

In econometrics, or applied economics, a “placebo test” is not a comparison of a drug to a sugar pill. Rather, it’s a sort of conceptual placebo, in which you repeat your analysis using a different dataset, or a different part of your dataset, where no intervention occurred. For example, if you’re performing some analysis studying […]

Don’t calculate post-hoc power using observed estimate of effect size

Aleksi Reito writes: The statement below was included in a recent issue of Annals of Surgery: But, as 80% power is difficult to achieve in surgical studies, we argue that the CONSORT and STROBE guidelines should be modified to include the disclosure of power—even if less than 80%—with the given sample size and effect size […]

Why, oh why, do so many people embrace the Pacific Garbage Cleanup nonsense? (I have a theory).

This post is by Phil, not Andrew. Over the couple of months I have seen quite a few people celebrating the long-awaited launch of a big device that will remove plastic garbage from the Pacific ocean. I find this frustrating because this project makes no sense even if the device works as intended: at best […]

Mouse Among the Cats

Colleen Flaherty asks: Do you get asked to peer review a lot? I’m guessing you do… This new very short paper says it’s not a crisis, though, since only the people who publish the most are getting asked to review a lot… The authors pose two solutions: either we need to “democratize” the system of […]

“Dynamically Rescaled Hamiltonian Monte Carlo for Bayesian Hierarchical Models”

Aki points us to this paper by Tore Selland Kleppe, which begins: Dynamically rescaled Hamiltonian Monte Carlo (DRHMC) is introduced as a computationally fast and easily implemented method for performing full Bayesian analysis in hierarchical statistical models. The method relies on introducing a modified parameterisation so that the re-parameterised target distribution has close to constant […]

How to set up a voting system for a Hall of Fame?

Micah Cohen writes: Our company is establishing a Hall of Fame and I am on a committee to help set it up which involved figuring out the voting system to induct a candidate. We have modeled it somewhat off of the voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame. The details in short: · Up to […]

Hey—take this psychological science replication quiz!

Rob Wilbin writes: I made this quiz where people try to guess ahead of time which results will replicate and which won’t in order to give then a more nuanced understanding of replication issues in psych. Based on this week’s Nature replication paper. It includes quotes and p-values from the original study if people want […]

“Identification of and correction for publication bias,” and another discussion of how forking paths is not the same thing as file drawer

Max Kasy and Isaiah Andrews sent along this paper, which begins: Some empirical results are more likely to be published than others. Such selective publication leads to biased estimates and distorted inference. This paper proposes two approaches for identifying the conditional probability of publication as a function of a study’s results, the first based on […]

Bayesian model comparison in ecology

Conor Goold writes: I was reading this overview of mixed-effect modeling in ecology, and thought you or your blog readers may be interested in their last conclusion (page 35): Other modelling approaches such as Bayesian inference are available, and allow much greater flexibility in choice of model structure, error structure and link function. However, the […]

“Richard Jarecki, Doctor Who Conquered Roulette, Dies at 86”

[relevant video] Thanatos Savehn is right. This obituary, written by someone named “Daniel Slotnik” (!), is just awesome: Many gamblers see roulette as a game of pure chance — a wheel is spun, a ball is released and winners and losers are determined by luck. Richard Jarecki refused to believe it was that simple. He […]