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Archive of posts filed under the Miscellaneous Science category.

Plan for the creation of “a network of new scientific institutes pursuing basic research while not being dependent on universities, the NIH, and the rest of traditional academia and, importantly, not being dominated culturally by academia”

Alexey Guzey is a recent college graduate from Moscow who we heard about in connection with the Why We Sleep saga. He wrote a post a couple years ago called How Life Sciences Actually Work, and some point after that he decided to create a new organization to facilitate research outside academia. Here’s his pitch: […]

Open data and quality: two orthogonal factors of a study

It’s good for a study to have open data, and it’s good for the study to be high quality. If for simplicity we dichotomize these variables, we can find lots of examples in all four quadrants: – Unavailable data, low quality: The notorious ESP paper from 2011 and tons of papers published during that era […]

“Analysis challenges slew of studies claiming ocean acidification alters fish behavior”

Lizzie Wolkovich writes: Here’s an interesting new paper in climate change ecology that states, “Using data simulations, we additionally show that the large effect sizes and small within-group variances that have been reported in several previous studies are highly improbable.” I [Lizzie] wish I were more surprised, but mostly I was impressed they did the […]

A recommender system for scientific papers

Jeff Leek writes: We created a web app that lets people very quickly sort papers on two axes: how interesting it is and how plausible they think it is. We started with covid papers but have plans to expand it to other fields as well. Seems like an interesting idea, a yelp-style recommender system but […]

Is explainability the new uncertainty?

This is Jessica. Last August, NIST published a draft document describing four principles of explainable AI. They asked for feedback from the public at large, to “stimulate a conversation about what we should expect of our decision-making devices‘’.  I find it interesting because from a quick skim, it seems like NIST is stepping into some […]

Why did it take so many decades for the behavioral sciences to develop a sense of crisis around methodology and replication?

“On or about December 1910 human character changed.” — Virginia Woolf (1924). Woolf’s quote about modernism in the arts rings true, in part because we continue to see relatively sudden changes in intellectual life, not merely from technology (email and texting replacing letters and phone calls, streaming replacing record sales, etc.) and power relations (for […]

The both both of science reform

This is Jessica. I pay some attention to what gets discussed in methodological/statistical reform research and discussions, and I’m probably not the only one who’s watched as the movement (at least in psychology) seems to be getting more self-aware recently. The other day I jotted down what strike me as some yet-unresolved tensions worth reflecting […]

“Like a harbor clotted with sunken vessels”: update

A few years ago I reported on this story: In 2005, Michael Kosfeld, Markus Heinrichs, Paul Zak, Urs Fischbacher, and Ernst Fehr published a paper, “Oxytocin increases trust in humans.” According to Google, that paper has been cited 3389 times. In 2015, Gideon Nave, Colin Camerer, and Michael McCullough published a paper, “Does Oxytocin Increase […]

The 5-sigma rule in physics

Eliot Johnson writes: You’ve devoted quite a few blog posts to challenging orthodox views regarding statistical significance. If there’s been discussion of this as it relates to the 5-sigma rule in physics, then I’ve missed that thread. If not, why not open up a critical discussion about it? Here’s a link to one blog post […]

The social sciences are useless. So why do we study them? Here’s a good reason:

Back when I taught at Berkeley, you could always get a reaction from the students by invoking Stanford. The funny thing is, though, if you’re at Stanford and mention Berkeley, nobody cares. You have to bring up Harvard to get a reaction. Similarly, MIT students have a chip on their shoulder about Harvard, but Harvard […]

“The presumption of wisdom and/or virtue causes intellectuals to personalize situations where contending ideas are involved.”

Mark Tuttle writes: A friend recommended the book Intellectuals and Society, by Thomas Sowell. The book is from 2010, but before this recommendation I hadn’t heard of it. Note the last paragraph, below, in the Wikipedia entry: Ego-involvement and personalization The presumption of wisdom and/or virtue causes intellectuals to personalize situations where contending ideas are […]

“From Socrates to Darwin and beyond: What children can teach us about the human mind”

This talk is really interesting. I like how she starts off with the connections between psychological essentialism and political polarization, as an example of the importance of these ideas in so many areas of life.

Earliest Known Uses of Some of the Words of Mathematics

Aki points us to this fun 1990s-style webpage from Jeff Miller. Last year we featured his page on word oddities and other trivia. You might also enjoy his page, Earliest Uses of Various Mathematical Symbols. Here’s an example: The equal symbol (=) was first used by Robert Recorde (c. 1510-1558) in 1557 in The Whetstone […]

Marshmallow update

Gur Huberman points us to this interesting article by Dee Gill about a posthumous research publication. It’s about 80 zillion times better than the usual science press release. P.S. I did some quick googling and found some fun links showing past credulity on the marshmallow thing from the usual suspects: Sapolsky, Brooks, NPR. None of […]

Science reform can get so personal

This is Jessica. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about philosophy of science, motivated by both a longtime interest in methodological reform in the social sciences and a more recent interest in proposed ethics problems and reforms in computer science. The observation I want to share is not intended to support any particular stance, but […]

Ethics washing, ethics bashing

This is Jessica. Google continues to have a moment among those interested in tech ethics, after firing the other half (with Timnit Gebru) of their ethical AI leadership, Margaret Mitchell, who had founded the ethical AI team. Previously I commented on potential problems behind the review process that led to a paper that Gebru and […]

Is sqrt(2) a normal number?

In a paper from 2018, Pierpaolo Uberti writes: In this paper we study the property of normality of a number in base 2. A simple rule that associates a vector to a number is presented and the property of normality is stated for the vector associated to the number. The problem of testing a number […]

Postdoc in Paris for Bayesian models in genetics . . . differential equation models in Stan

Julie Bertrand writes: The BIPID team in the IAME UMR1137 INSERM Université de Paris is opening a one-year postdoctoral position to develop Bayesian approaches to high throughput genetic analyses using nonlinear mixed effect models. The candidate will analyse longitudinal phenotype data using differential equation models on clinical trial data with Stan and perform simulation studies […]

Jordana Cepelewicz on “The Hard Lessons of Modeling the Coronavirus Pandemic”

Here’s a long and thoughtful article on issues that have come up with Covid modeling. Jordana Cepelewicz. 2021. The Hard Lessons of Modeling the Coronavirus Pandemic. Quanta. Jordana’s a staff writer for Quanta, a popular science magazine funded by the Simons Foundation, which also funds the Flatiron Institute, where I now work. She’s a science […]

COVID and Vitamin D…and some other things too.

This post is by Phil Price, not Andrew. Way back in November I started writing a post about my Vitamin D experience. My doctor says I need more, in spite of the fact that I spend lots of time outdoors in the sun. I looked into the research and concluded that nobody really knows how […]

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