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Archive of posts filed under the Decision Theory category.

Name this fallacy!

It’s the fallacy of thinking that, just cos you’re good at something, that everyone should be good at it, and if they’re not, they’re just being stubborn and doing it badly on purpose. I thought about this when reading this line from Adam Gopnik in the New Yorker: [Henry Louis] Gates is one of the […]

That illusion where you think the other side is united and your side is diverse

Lots of people have written about this illusion of perspective: The people close to you look to be filled with individuality and diversity, while the people way over there in the other corner of the room all look kind of alike. But widespread knowledge of this illusion does not stop people from succumbing from it. […]

Brakes

So. I noticed my rear brake wasn’t really doing anything. If I squeezed really hard, I could slow down, but not enough to stop going down a steep hill. No big deal—it’s the front brake that really matters, right?—but just for safety’s sake I went to the bike store one day and they replaced the […]

“Boosting intelligence analysts’ judgment accuracy: What works, what fails?”

Kevin Lewis points us to this research article by David Mandel, Christopher Karvetski, and Mandeep Dhami, which begins: A routine part of intelligence analysis is judging the probability of alternative hypotheses given available evidence. Intelligence organizations advise analysts to use intelligence-tradecraft methods such as Analysis of Competing Hypotheses (ACH) to improve judgment, but such methods […]

“How many years do we lose to the air we breathe?” Or not.

From this Washington Post article: But . . . wait a second. The University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute . . . what exactly is that? Let’s do a google, then we get to the relevant page. I’m concerned because this is the group that did this report, which featured this memorable graph: See this […]

Why “statistical significance” doesn’t work: An example.

Reading some of the back-and-forth in this thread, it struck me that some of the discussion was about data, some was about models, some was about underlying reality, but none of the discussion was driven by statements that this or that pattern in data was “statistically significant.” Here’s the problem with “statistical significance” as I […]

A question about the piranha problem as it applies to A/B testing

Wicaksono Wijono writes: While listening to your seminar about the piranha problem a couple weeks back, I kept thinking about a similar work situation but in the opposite direction. I’d be extremely grateful if you share your thoughts. So the piranha problem is stated as “There can be some large and predictable effects on behavior, […]

Active learning and decision making with varying treatment effects!

In a new paper, Iiris Sundin, Peter Schulam, Eero Siivola, Aki Vehtari, Suchi Saria, and Samuel Kaski write: Machine learning can help personalized decision support by learning models to predict individual treatment effects (ITE). This work studies the reliability of prediction-based decision-making in a task of deciding which action a to take for a target […]

Treatment interactions can be hard to estimate from data.

Brendan Nyhan writes: Per #3 here, just want to make sure you saw the Coppock Leeper Mullinix paper indicating treatment effect heterogeneity is rare. My reply: I guess it depends on what is being studied. In the world of evolutionary psychology etc., interactions are typically claimed to be larger than main effects (for example, that […]

“The Long-Run Effects of America’s First Paid Maternity Leave Policy”: I need that trail of breadcrumbs.

Tyler Cowen links to a research article by Brenden Timpe, “The Long-Run Effects of America’s First Paid Maternity Leave Policy,” that begins as follows: This paper provides the first evidence of the effect of a U.S. paid maternity leave policy on the long-run outcomes of children. I exploit variation in access to paid leave that […]

What’s a good default prior for regression coefficients? A default Edlin factor of 1/2?

The punch line “Your readers are my target audience. I really want to convince them that it makes sense to divide regression coefficients by 2 and their standard errors by sqrt(2). Of course, additional prior information should be used whenever available.” The background It started with an email from Erik van Zwet, who wrote: In […]

C’est le fin! Riad Sattouf gagne.

Le mec japonais qui gagnait la competition pour manger les saucisses—alors, ça sonne mieux en anglais—M. Kobayashi était un grand « underdog », le cheval sombre de cet « mars fou », mais en fait je dois avancer le dessinateur, grâce à le poème de Dzhaughn: Please don’t ignore this dour crie de couer at […]

It’s the finals! The Japanese dude who won the hot dog eating contest vs. Riad Sattouf

I chose yesterday‘s winner based on this comment from Re’el: Hey, totally not related to this, but could offer any insight into this study: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/15/well/eat/eggs-cholesterol-heart-health.html It seems like something we go back and forth on and this study didn’t offer any insight. Thanks. Egg = oeuf, so we should choose the man whose name ends […]

Riad Sattouf (1) vs. Pele; the Japanese dude who won the hot dog eating contest advances

Lots of good arguments in favor of Bruce, but then this came from Noah: Hot-dog-garbled speech from Kobayashi recounting disgusting stories about ingesting absurdly large numbers of unchewed sausages and wet buns vs the gravelly, dulcet tones of New Jersey’s answer to John Mellencamp telling touching, timeless tales of musical world tours? The Boss in […]

It’s the semifinals! The Japanese dude who won the hot dog eating contest vs. Bruce Springsteen (1)

For our first semifinal match, we have an unseeded creative eater, up against the top-seeded person from New Jersey. It’s Coney Island vs. Asbury Park: the battle of the low-rent beaches. Again, we’re trying to pick the best seminar speaker. Here are the rules and here’s the bracket:

Pele wins. On to the semifinals!

Like others, I’m sad that Veronica Geng is out of the running, so I’ll have to go with Diana: Jonathan’s post-hoc argument for Geng was so good that I now have to vote for Pele, given that his name can be transformed into Geng’s through a simple row matrix operation (a gesture that just might […]

Pele vs. Meryl Streep; Riad Sattouf advances

Yesterday Dzhaughn gave a complicated argument but ultimately I couldn’t figure out if it was pro- or anti-Geng, so I had to go with Dalton’s straight shot: Geng has been accused of being “subtle to the point of unintelligibility.” So apparently ole V puts the “b” in subtle. So here’s to our man, Riad who […]

Riad Sattouf (1) vs. Veronica Geng; Bruce Springsteen advances

Personally, I’d rather hear Dorothy Parker, but I had to go with Dalton’s pitch: Ah, but Dorothy Parker is actually from New Jersey. In fact, both Bruce and Dorothy are members of the official New Jersey hall of fame (https://njhalloffame.org/hall-of-famers/). Both were born in Long Branch, NJ. But Bruce is backed up (literally) by another […]

Dorothy Parker (2) vs. Bruce Springsteen (1); the Japanese dude who won the hot dog eating contest advances

Dalton made an impressive argument, too complicated to summarize, in favor of Jim Thorpe, “the destroyer of hot dog vendors,” but this was countered by Thomas’s logic: Since Jim Thorpe is top dog in whatever he tries his hand at, his demise is now inevitable. And ultimately I had to go with Albert, who made […]

R package for Type M and Type S errors

Andy Garland Timm writes: My package for working with Type S/M errors in hypothesis testing, ‘retrodesign’, is now up on CRAN. It builds on the code provided by Gelman and Carlin (2014) with functions for calculating type S/M errors across a variety of effect sizes as suggested for design analysis in the paper, a function […]