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Archive of posts filed under the Miscellaneous Science category.

I think that science is mostly “Brezhnevs.” It’s rare to see a “Gorbachev” who will abandon a paradigm just because it doesn’t do the job. Also, moving beyond naive falsificationism

Sandro Ambuehl writes: I’ve been following your blog and the discussion of replications and replicability across different fields daily, for years. I’m an experimental economist. The following question arose from a discussion I recently had with Anna Dreber, George Loewenstein, and others. You’ve previously written about the importance of sound theories (and the dangers of […]

Let’s try this again: It is nonsense to say that we don’t know whether a specific weather event was affected by climate change. It’s not just wrong, it’s nonsensical.

This post is by Phil Price, not Andrew. If you write something and a substantial number of well-intentioned readers misses your point, the problem is yours. Too many people misunderstood what I was sayinga few days ago in the post “There is no way to prove that [an extreme weather event] either was, or was […]

Was Thomas Kuhn evil? I don’t really care.

OK, I guess I care a little . . . but when it comes to philosophy, I don’t really care about Kuhn’s personality or even what exactly he said in his books. I use Kuhn in my work, by which I mean that I use an idealized Kuhn, I take the best from his work […]

My talk at the Metascience symposium Fri 6 Sep

The meeting is at Stanford, and here’s my talk: Embracing Variation and Accepting Uncertainty: Implications for Science and Metascience The world would be pretty horrible if your attitude on immigration could be affected by a subliminal smiley face, if elections were swung by shark attacks and college football games, if how you vote depended on […]

“I am a writer for our school newspaper, the BHS Blueprint, and I am writing an article about our school’s new growth mindset initiative.”

Caleb VanArragon writes: I am a student at Blaine High School in Blaine, Minnesota. I am a writer for our school newspaper, the BHS Blueprint, and I am writing an article about our school’s new growth mindset initiative. I was wondering if you would be willing to answer a couple of questions about your study […]

More on the piranha problem, the butterfly effect, unintended consequences, and the push-a-button, take-a-pill model of science

The other day we had some interesting discussion that I’d like to share. I started by contrasting the butterfly effect—the idea that a small, seemingly trivial, intervention at place A can potentially have a large, unpredictable effect at place B—with the “PNAS” or “Psychological Science” view of the world, in which small, seemingly trivial, intervention […]

Coney Island

Inspired by this story (“Good news! Researchers respond to a correction by acknowledging it and not trying to dodge its implications”): Coming down from Psych Science Stopping off at PNAS Out all day datagathering And the craic was good Stopped off at the old lab Early in the morning Drove through Harvard taking pictures And […]

“The issue of how to report the statistics is one that we thought about deeply, and I am quite sure we reported them correctly.”

Ricardo Vieira writes: I recently came upon this study from Princeton published in PNAS: Implicit model of other people’s visual attention as an invisible, force-carrying beam projecting from the eyes In which the authors asked people to demonstrate how much you have to tilt an object before it falls. They show that when a human […]

Why does my academic lab keep growing?

Andrew, Breck, and I are struggling with the Stan group funding at Columbia just like most small groups in academia. The short story is that to apply for enough grants to give us a decent chance of making payroll in the following year, we have to apply for so many that our expected amount of […]

Concerned about demand effects in psychology experiments? Incorporate them into the design.

Johannes Haushofer sends along this article with Jonathan de Quidt and Christopher Roth, “Measuring and Bounding Experimenter Demand,” which begins: We propose a technique for assessing robustness to demand effects of findings from experiments and surveys. The core idea is that by deliberately inducing demand in a structured way we can bound its influence. We […]

“Developing Digital Privacy: Children’s Moral Judgments Concerning Mobile GPS Devices”

Recently in the sister blog: New technology poses new moral problems for children to consider. We examined whether children deem object tracking with a mobile GPS device to be a property right. In three experiments, 329 children (4-10 years) and adults were asked whether it is acceptable to track the location of either one’s own […]

Alison Mattek on physics and psychology, philosophy, models, explanations, and formalization

Alison Mattek writes: I saw your recent blog post on falsifiable claims. For the past couple of years I have been developing a theoretical framework that highlights the importance of unfalsifiable claims in science. I try to also make a few unfalsifiable claims regarding psychological variables. Here is Mattek’s paper, “Expanding psychological theory using system […]

“The most mysterious star in the galaxy”

Charles Margossian writes: The reading for tomorrow’s class reminded me of a project I worked on as an undergraduate. It was the planet hunter initiative. The project shows light-curves to participants and asks them to find transit signals (i.e. evidence of a transiting planets). The idea was to rely on human pattern recognition capabilities to […]

Endless citations to already-retracted articles

Ken Cor and Gaurav Sood write: Many claims in a scientific article rest on research done by others. But when the claims are based on flawed research, scientific articles potentially spread misinformation. To shed light on how often scientists base their claims on problematic research, we exploit data on cases where problems with research are […]

Gigerenzer: “The Bias Bias in Behavioral Economics,” including discussion of political implications

Gerd Gigerenzer writes: Behavioral economics began with the intention of eliminating the psychological blind spot in rational choice theory and ended up portraying psychology as the study of irrationality. In its portrayal, people have systematic cognitive biases that are not only as persistent as visual illusions but also costly in real life—meaning that governmental paternalism […]

“Widely cited study of fake news retracted by researchers”

Chuck Jackson forwards this amusing story: Last year, a study was published in the Journal of Human Behavior, explaining why fake news goes viral on social media. The study itself went viral, being covered by dozens of news outlets. But now, it turns out there was an error in the researchers’ analysis that invalidates their […]

Inshallah

This came up in comments the other day: I kinda like the idea of researchers inserting the word “Inshallah” at appropriate points throughout their text. “Our results will replicate, inshallah. . . . Our code has no more bugs, inshallah,” etc. Related: God is in every leaf of every tree

If you want a vision of the future, imagine a computer, calculating the number of angels who can dance on the head of a pin—forever.

Riffing on techno-hype news articles such as An AI physicist can derive the natural laws of imagined universes, Peter Woit writes: This is based on the misconception about string theory that the problem with it is that “the calculations are too hard”. The truth of the matter is that there is no actual theory, no […]

Reproducibility problems in the natural sciences

After reading my news article on the replication crisis, Mikael Wolfe writes: While I’m sure there is a serious issue about replication in social science experiments, what about the natural sciences? You use the term “science” even though you don’t include natural sciences in your piece. I fear that climate and other science deniers will […]

The garden of 603,979,752 forking paths

Amy Orben and Andrew Przybylski write: The widespread use of digital technologies by young people has spurred speculation that their regular use negatively impacts psychological well-being. Current empirical evidence supporting this idea is largely based on secondary analyses of large-scale social datasets. Though these datasets provide a valuable resource for highly powered investigations, their many […]