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Archive of posts filed under the Miscellaneous Science category.

Should we mind if authorship is falsified?

In a typically thought-provoking piece, Louis Menand asks, “Should we mind if a book is a hoax?” In his article, Menand (whose father taught the best course I ever took at MIT, in which we learned that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty) focuses on imaginative literature written by white people but attributed to […]

Is “abandon statistical significance” like organically fed, free-range chicken?

The question: is good statistics scalable? This comes up a lot in discussions on abandoning statistical significance, null-hypothesis significance testing, p-value thresholding, etc. I recommend accepting uncertainty, but what if it’s decision time—what to do? How can the world function if the millions of scientific decisions currently made using statistical significance somehow have to be […]

What if it’s never decorative gourd season?

If it rains, now we’ll change We’ll hold and save all of what came We won’t let it run away If it rains — Robert Forster I’ve been working recently as part of a team of statisticians based in Toronto on a big, complicated applied problem. One of the things about working on this project […]

Filling/emptying the half empty/full glass of profitable science: Different views on retiring versus retaining thresholds for statistical significance.

This post is by Keith O’Rourke and as with all posts and comments on this blog, is just a deliberation on dealing with uncertainties in scientific inquiry and should not to be attributed to any entity other than the author. As with any critically-thinking inquirer, the views behind these deliberations are always subject to rethinking […]

“The paper has been blind peer-reviewed and published in a highly reputable journal, which is the gold standard in scientific corroboration. Thus, all protocol was followed to the letter and the work is officially supported.”

Robert MacDonald points us to this news article by Esther Addley: It’s another example of what’s probably bad science being published in a major journal, where other researchers point out its major flaws and the author doubles down. In this case, the University of Bristol has an interesting reaction. It’s pulled down its article praising […]

The devil’s in the details…and also in the broad strokes. Is this study ridiculous, or am I badly misjudging it?

This post is by Phil Price, not Andrew. Something caught my eye in a recent MIT Technology Review: an article in Nature Communications entitled ‘The greenhouse gas impacts of converting food production in England and Wales to organic methods.’ This is a subject that interests me, although I have no expertise in it whatsoever, so […]

“Starting at the beginning again can be exhausting and stressful. But, opportunities are finally coming into focus . . .”

Ashley Steel writes: Walking away from science or walking away with science? This is an essay about career transitions and the value of statistical thinking in, perhaps, surprising places. It is written in hopes of opening a conversation. When my father, a kind and distinguished academic physician, gave me a chemistry set for my 12th […]

“Here’s an interesting story right in your sweet spot”

Jonathan Falk writes: Here’s an interesting story right in your sweet spot: Large effects from something whose possible effects couldn’t be that large? Check. Finding something in a sample of 1024 people that requires 34,000 to gain adequate power? Check. Misuse of p values? Check Science journalist hype? Check Searching for the cause of an […]

How to think scientifically about scientists’ proposals for fixing science

I kinda like this little article which I wrote a couple years ago while on the train from the airport. It will appear in the journal Socius. Here’s how it begins: Science is in crisis. Any doubt about this status has surely been been dispelled by the loud assurances to the contrary by various authority […]

My talk at the Brookings Institution this Fri 11am

The replication crisis in science: Does it matter for policy? Andrew Gelman, Department of Statistics and Department of Political Science, Columbia University I argue that policy analysts should care about the replication crisis for three reasons: (1) High-profile policy claims have been systematically exaggerated; (2) This has implications for how to conduct and interpret new […]

Carol Nickerson

Nick Brown informed me that Carol Nickerson passed away. Nick writes: Carol was unemployed for the last five years of her life. She had been associate/adjunct faculty at UIUC for some time, but when I got to know her she was being let go after she refused to do something unethical for the person who […]

“Less Wow and More How in Social Psychology”

Fritz Strack sends along this article from 2012 which has an interesting perspective. Strack’s article begins: But, he continues, things changed in 2011 with the scandals of Diederik Stapel (a career built upon fake data), Daryl Bem (joke science getting published in a real journal), and a seemingly unending series of prominent studies that failed […]

That study about the health risks of red meat: An excellent news report

A couple different people pointed me to this excellent news article by Gina Kolata (with Brad Plumer), who writes: Public health officials for years have urged Americans to limit consumption of red meat and processed meats because of concerns that these foods are linked to heart disease, cancer and other ills. But on Monday, in […]

Here’s a supercool controversy for ya

Raghu Parthasarathy writes: You might like this very good article by Ashley Smart on a recent fight about the statistical mechanics of water, and a feud that was made worse by a lack of sharing code Condensed matter theory! That’s what I worked on, back when I was a physicist. We did an experiment that […]

Dan’s Paper Corner: Can we model scientific discovery and what can we learn from the process?

Jesus taken serious by the many Jesus taken joyous by a few Jazz police are paid by J. Paul Getty Jazzers paid by J. Paul Getty II Leonard Cohen So I’m trying a new thing because like no one is really desperate for another five thousand word essay about whatever happens to be on my […]

Brief summary notes on Statistical Thinking for enabling better review of clinical trials.

This post is by Keith O’Rourke and as with all posts and comments on this blog, is just a deliberation on dealing with uncertainties in scientific inquiry and should not to be attributed to any entity other than the author. As with any critically-thinking inquirer, the views behind these deliberations are always subject to rethinking […]

“Superior: The Return of Race Science,” by Angela Saini

“People so much wanted the story to be true . . . that they couldn’t look past it to more mundane explanations.” – Angela Saini, Superior. I happened to be reading this book around the same time as I attended the Metascience conference, which was motivated by the realization during the past decade or so […]

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 […]