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Archive of posts filed under the Miscellaneous Science category.

Basbøll’s Audenesque paragraph on science writing, followed by a resurrection of a 10-year-old debate on Gladwell

I pointed Thomas Basbøll to my recent post, “Science is science writing; science writing is science,” and he in turn pointed me to his post from a few years ago, “Scientific Writing and ‘Science Writing,’” which stirringly begins: For me, 2015 will be the year that I [Basbøll] finally lost all respect for “science writing”. […]

Is causality as explicit in fake data simulation as it should be?

Sander Greenland recently published a paper with a very clear and thoughtful exposition on why causality, logic and context need full consideration in any statistical analysis, even strictly descriptive or predictive analysis. For instance, in the concluding section – “Statistical science (as opposed to mathematical statistics) involves far more than data – it requires realistic […]

Are female scientists worse mentors? This study pretends to know

A new paper in Nature communications, The association between early career informal mentorship in academic collaborations and junior author performance, by AlShebli, Makovi, and Rahwan, caught my attention. There are a number of issues but what bothered me the most is the post-hoc speculation about what might be driving the associations. Here’s the abstract: We […]

As a forecaster, how important is it to “have a few elections under your belt”?

Kevin Lewis pointed me to this comment from Nate Silver on a recent post: Having a few elections under your belt helps a *lot*. No matter how much you test things in the lab, there are some things you’re going to learn only by seeing how your forecast reacts to real data in real time. […]

Bees have five eyes

Just thought you’d want to know.

She’s wary of the consensus based transparency checklist, and here’s a paragraph we should’ve added to that zillion-authored paper

Megan Higgs writes: A large collection of authors describes a “consensus-based transparency checklist” in the Dec 2, 2019 Comment in Nature Human Behavior. Hey—I’m one of those 80 authors! Let’s see what Higgs has to say: I [Higgs] have mixed emotions about it — the positive aspects are easy to see, but I also have […]

Stan receives its second Nobel prize.

Aki writes: Nobel prize and other science prices are problematic and this is not endorsement of such prices, but this might be useful for someone who needs to tell (hype) about the impact of Stan (or just as another funny fact about Stan). Previously Stan was used in the the LIGO gravitational wave research awarded […]

Social science and the replication crisis (my talk this Thurs 8 Oct)

My talk at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center 3pm (Central European Time): Social science and the replication crisis The replication crisis is typically discussed in the context of particular silly claims, or in terms of the sociology of science, or with regard to controversies in statistical practice. Here we discuss the content of unreplicated […]

“Postmortem of a replication drama in computer science”

Rik de Kort writes: This morning I stumbled across a very interesting blog post, dissecting some drama related to a non-replicating paper in computer science land. The question the paper tries to answer is whether some programming languages are more error prone than others. For a paper in computer science I would expect all their […]

“Day science” and “Night science” are the same thing—if done right!

Chetan Chawla writes: This paper will interest you, in defense of data mining. Isn’t this similar to the exploration Wasnik was encouraging in his infamous blog post? The article, by Itai Yanai and Martin Lercher, is called, “A hypothesis is a liability,” and it appeared in the journal Genome Biology. I took a look and […]

Here’s a question for the historians of science out there: How modern is the idea of a scientific “anomaly”?

Occasional blog commenter Raghu recommended Les Insulaires by Pascal Garnier. My French isn’t so good but dammit I’m gonna read this one all the way through. We’ll see if I finish it by the time this post appears in September . . . Anyway, I was talking with someone about my difficulties with foreign languages, […]

Rethinking Rob Kass’ recent talk on science in a less statistics-centric way.

Reflection on a recent post on a talk by Rob Kass’ has lead me to write this post. I liked the talk very much and found it informative. Perhaps especially for it’s call to clearly distinguish abstract models from brute force reality. I believe that is a very important point that has often been lost […]

Their findings don’t replicate, but they refuse to admit they might’ve messed up. (We’ve seen this movie before.)

Ricardo Vieira writes: I have been reading the replication efforts by the datacolada team (in particular Leif Nelson and Joe Simmons). You have already mentioned some of their work here and here. They have just published the #7 installation of the series, and I felt it was a good time to summarize the results for […]

Theorizing, thought experiments, fake-data simulation

I think of theorizing as like thought experiments or, in statistics, fake-data simulation: A way of exploring the implications of one’s ideas, essentially a form of deductive reasoning. Arguably, much of fiction serves this purpose too, of mapping out the implications of existing postulates, and, conversely, revealing implicit postulates or assumptions that drive our thinking.

Some thoughts inspired by Lee Cronbach (1975), “Beyond the two disciplines of scientific psychology”

I happened to come across this article today. It’s hardly obscure—it has over 3000 citations, according to Google scholar—but it was new to me. It’s a wonderful article. You should read it right away. OK, click on the above link and read the article. Done? OK, then read on.

Don’t say your data “reveal quantum nature of human judgments.” Be precise and say your data are “consistent with a quantum-inspired model of survey responses.” Yes, then your paper might not appear in PNAS, but you’ll feel better about yourself in the morning.

This one came up in a blog comment by Carlos; it’s an article from PNAS (yeah, I know) called “Context effects produced by question orders reveal quantum nature of human judgments.” From the abstract: In recent years, quantum probability theory has been used to explain a range of seemingly irrational human decision-making behaviors. The quantum […]

The flashy crooks get the headlines, but the bigger problem is everyday routine bad science done by non-crooks

In the immortal words of Michael Kinsley, the real scandal isn’t what’s illegal, the scandal is what’s legal. I was reminded of this principle after seeing this news article about the discredited Surgisphere doctor (see here for background). The news article was fine—it’s good to learn these things—but, as with pizzagate, evilicious, and other science […]

“No one is going to force you to write badly. In the long run, you won’t even be rewarded for it. But, unfortunately, it is true that they’ll often let you get away with it.”

Basbøll says it well. Relatedly, see here. Writing is hard.

Can the science community help journalists avoid science hype? It won’t be easy.

tl;dr: Selection bias. The public letter Michael Eisen and Rob Tibshirani write: Researchers have responded to the challenge of the coronavirus with a commitment to speed and cooperation, featuring the rapid sharing of preliminary findings through “preprints,” scientific manuscripts that have not yet undergone formal peer review. . . . But the open dissemination of […]

Children’s Variety Seeking in Food Choices

Margaret Echelbarger et al. write: Across three studies, we examine the variety selections of 329 children (4–9 years of age) and 81 adults in the food domain. In studies 1 and 2, we find that, like adults, children prefer to diversify their selections given no established preference for one item over another. In study 3, […]