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Archive of posts filed under the Miscellaneous Science category.

Reflections on Lakatos’s “Proofs and Refutations”

I wrote this for the book review section of the American Mathematical Monthly. I’ll discuss the other books reviewed in tomorrow’s post, but here I wanted to share what I wrote about Lakatos’s book. And, yeah, yeah, I know from the last time this came up that many of you disagree with me on the […]

“Maybe we should’ve called it Arianna”

Katie Hafner wrote this obituary of Arianna Rosenbluth, original programmer of what is known as the Metropolis algorithm: Arianna Rosenbluth Dies at 93; Pioneering Figure in Data Science Dr. Rosenbluth, who received her physics Ph.D. at 21, helped create an algorithm that has became a foundation of understanding huge quantities of data. She died of […]

Toronto Data Workshop on Reproducibility

I (Lauren not Andrew writing) will be speaking at an upcoming online workshop on reproducibility (free and open). More details here. Looking at the talk outlines, I’m really looking forward to it. I think we can generally agree that reproducibility is a good thing, and something we want to strive for, but in practice there’s […]

My thoughts on “What’s Wrong with Social Science and How to Fix It: Reflections After Reading 2578 Papers”

Chetan Chawla and Asher Meir point us to this post by Alvaro de Menard, who writes: Over the past year, I [Menard] have skimmed through 2578 social science papers, spending about 2.5 minutes on each one. What a great beginning! I can relate to this . . . indeed, it roughly describes my experience as […]

How to incorporate new data into our understanding? Sturgis rally example.

A colleague writes: This is a very provocative claim about the Sturgis rally—can you do a stats “fact check”? I’m curious if this has been subjected to statistical scrutiny. I replied that I’m curious why he said this study is provocative: It makes sense that when people get together and connect nodes in the social […]

One more cartoon like this, and this blog will be obsolete.

This post is by Phil. This SMBC cartoon seems to wrap up about half of the content of this blog.  Of course I’m exaggerating. There will still be room for book reviews and cat photos.

The Data Detective, by Tim Harford

Economics reporter Tim Harford came out with this new book connecting three topics: – The understanding of statistical evidence and uncertainty, – The realization that lots of published and publicized social science can’t be trusted, – Our political discourse that is heavy on lies and light on trust. What Harford says makes sense: statistical reasoning […]

Wombats sh*ttin brix in the tail . . .

This is a kind of followup to an item from a few months ago. Most of our posts are on six-month lag, but this one is just too important not to share immediately. Paul Alper sent it to us: How wombats produce their cube-shape poo has long been a biological puzzle but now an international […]

“How We’re Duped by Data” and how we can do better

Richard Juster points us to this press release by Laura Counts from the business school of the University of California, promoting the work of Leif Nelson, one of the authors of the modern classic paper on “false-positive psychology” and “researcher degrees of freedom.” It’s great to see this sort of work get positive publicity. I […]

I was drunk at the podium, and I knew my results weren’t strong

So I left in mid-lecture tempted by a reform song The plenary hall it shifted as they turned to watch me leave And I pulled a little p-curve from the pocket in my sleeve The variation it was stronger to my dichotomizing eyes Than the light which had blinded me with Fisher’s own half-lies Yes […]

Hey! Here’s a cool new book of stories about the collection of social data

I took a look at a new book, “Research exposed: How empirical social science gets done in the digital age,” edited by Eszter Hargittai and with chapters written by 17 authors, most of whom teach communication at various universities around the world. I don’t know anything about communication as an academic field, so I can’t […]

Sharon Begley

Science journalism has changed a lot in the past thirty years. In the old days, the top science writers (with the exception of Martin Gardner, I guess), were explainers whose job was to report the breakthroughs or purported breakthroughs by purportedly brilliant scientists. There’s still room for this sort of science writing—for example, we want […]

Weights in statistics

Thomas Lumley writes: There are roughly three and half distinct uses of the term weights in statistical methodology, and it’s a problem for software documentation and software development. Here, I [Lumley] want to distinguish the different uses and clarify when the differences are a problem. I also want to talk about the settings where we […]

Megan Higgs (statistician) and Anna Dreber (economist) on how to judge the success of a replication

The discussion started with this comment from Megan Higgs regarding a recent science replication initiative: I [Higgs] was immediately curious about their criteria for declaring a study replicated. In a quick skim of the info in the google form, here it is: In the survey of beliefs, you will be asked for (a) the probability […]

“Maybe the better analogy is that these people are museum curators and we’re telling them that their precious collection of Leonardos, which they have been augmenting at a rate of about one per month, include some fakes.”

Someone sent me a link to a recently published research paper and wrote: As far as any possible coverage on your blog goes, this one didn’t come from me, please. It just looks… baffling in a lot of different ways. OK, so it didn’t come from that person. I read the paper and replied: Oh, […]

To all the reviewers we’ve loved before

This post is by Lizzie (I might forget to say that again, when I forget you can see it in the little blue text under the title, or you might just notice it as out of form). For the end of the year I am saluting the favorite review I received in 2020. This comes […]

“End of novel. Beginning of job.”: That point at which you make the decision to stop thinking and start finishing

From a book review by the great critic John Clute:   And here’s the part I want to focus on: “End of novel. Beginning of job.“ I’ve been thinking about that line a lot recently. (I read the above review when it came out, decades ago, and I never forgot it. I was able to […]

I ain’t the lotus

Some people wanted me to resolve this Minecraft dispute. But it’s so far outside my areas of expertise and interest that I have no plans to look into it. My reason for posting was that I thought it could interest some of the blog readership, not necessarily the same readers who are interested in posts […]

Update on IEEE’s refusal to issue corrections

This is Jessica. Below is an update from Steve Haroz on his previously shared attempt to get a correction to an IEEE published paper. A week ago, I wrote about IEEE’s refusal to issue corrections for errors we made in our paper, “Skipping the Replication Crisis in Visualization: Threats to Study Validity and How to […]

Red Team prepublication review update

A few months ago we wrote about the following project for prepublication review, as described by Ruben Arslan: A colleague recently asked me to be a neutral arbiter on his Red Team challenge. He picked me because I was skeptical of his research plans at a conference and because I recently put out a bug […]

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