Skip to content
Archive of posts filed under the Public Health category.

Here’s a puzzle: Why did the U.S. doctor tell me to drink more wine and the French doctor tell me to drink less?

This recent post [link fixed], on the health effects of drinking a glass of wine a day, reminds me of a story: Several years ago my cardiologist in the U.S. recommended that I drink a glass of red wine a day for health reasons. I’m not a big drinker—probably I average something less than 100 […]

Is the effect they found too large to believe? (the effect of breakfast macronutrients on social decisions)

Someone who wishes to remain anonymous writes: Have you seen this paper? I [my correspondent] don’t see any obvious problems, but the results fall into the typical social psychology case “unbelievably large effects of small manipulations”. They even say so themselves: We provided converging evidence from two studies showing that a relatively small variation in […]

“No, cardiac arrests are not more common on Monday mornings, study finds”

Paul Alper points us to this news report by Susan Perry. I have no idea how good this study is—I have not looked at it at all, except to pull out those two ugly-but-somewhat-functional graphs above (where “SCA” stands for “sudden cardiac arrest”)—but I wanted to convey my approval for a news story reporting a […]

Are supercentenarians mostly superfrauds?

Ethan Steinberg points to a new article by Saul Justin Newman with the wonderfully descriptive title, “Supercentenarians and the oldest-old are concentrated into regions with no birth certificates and short lifespans,” which begins: The observation of individuals attaining remarkable ages, and their concentration into geographic sub-regions or ‘blue zones’, has generated considerable scientific interest. Proposed […]

New Data Science Health Innovation Fellowship at the University of California

Emma Huang writes: I’m one of the Program Co-Directors for a new Data Science Health Innovation Fellowship organized by UCSF, UC Berkeley, and Janssen R&D. We are currently recruiting the first cohort of candidates and are trying to publicize this initiative as broadly as possible among relevant communities. Below is a call for applications. As […]

A rise in premature publications among politically engaged researchers may be linked to Trump’s election, study says

A couple people pointed me to this news story, “A rise in premature births among Latina women may be linked to Trump’s election, study says,” and the associated JAMA article, which begins: Question Did preterm births increase among Latina women who were pregnant during the 2016 US presidential election? Findings This population-based study used an […]

Causal inference with time-varying mediators

Adan Becerra writes to Tyler VanderWeele: I have a question about your paper “Mediation analysis for a survival outcome with time-varying exposures, mediators, and confounders” that I was hoping that you could help my colleague (Julia Ward) and me with. We are currently using Medicare claims data to evaluate the following general mediation among dialysis […]

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 […]

Harvard dude calls us “online trolls”

Story here. Background here (“How post-hoc power calculation is like a shit sandwich”) and here (“Post-Hoc Power PubPeer Dumpster Fire”). OK, to be fair, “shit sandwich” could be considered kind of a trollish thing for me to have said. But the potty language in this context was not gratuitous; it furthered the larger point I […]

Random patterns in data yield random conclusions.

Bert Gunter points to this New York Times article, “How Exercise May Make Us Healthier: People who exercise have different proteins moving through their bloodstreams than those who are generally sedentary,” writing that it is “hyping a Journal of Applied Physiology paper that is now my personal record holder for most extensive conclusions from practically […]

The publication asymmetry: What happens if the New England Journal of Medicine publishes something that you think is wrong?

After reading my news article on the replication crisis, retired cardiac surgeon Gerald Weinstein wrote: I have long been disappointed by the quality of research articles written by people and published by editors who should know better. Previously, I had published two articles on experimental design written with your colleague Bruce Levin [of the Columbia […]

Pharmacometrics meeting in Paris on the afternoon of 11 July 2019

Julie Bertrand writes: The pharmacometrics group led by France Mentre (IAME, INSERM, Univ Paris) is very pleased to host a free ISoP Statistics and Pharmacometrics (SxP) SIG local event at Faculté Bichat, 16 rue Henri Huchard, 75018 Paris, on Thursday afternoon the 11th of July 2019. It will features talks from Professor Andrew Gelman, Univ […]

Horse-and-buggy era officially ends for survey research

Peter Enns writes: Given the various comments on your blog about evolving survey methods (e.g., Of buggy whips and moral hazards; or, Sympathy for the Aapor), I thought you might be interested that the Roper Center has updated its acquisitions policy and is now accepting non-probability samples and other methods. This is an exciting move […]

13 Reasons not to trust that claim that 13 Reasons Why increased youth suicide rates

A journalist writes: My eye was caught by this very popular story that broke yesterday — about a study that purported to find a 30 percent (!) increase in suicides, in kids 10-17, in the MONTH after a controversial show about suicide aired. And that increase apparently persisted for the rest of the year. It’s […]

“One should always beat a dead horse because the horse is never really dead”

Paul Alper came up with the above aphorism after reading this news article by Charles Ornstein and Katie Thomas, which goes as follows: What These Medical Journals Don’t Reveal: Top Doctors’ Ties to Industry One is dean of Yale’s medical school. Another is the director of a cancer center in Texas. A third is the […]

“How many years do we lose to the air we breathe?” Or not.

From this Washington Post article: But . . . wait a second. The University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute . . . what exactly is that? Let’s do a google, then we get to the relevant page. I’m concerned because this is the group that did this report, which featured this memorable graph: See this […]

“Appendix: Why we are publishing this here instead of as a letter to the editor in the journal”

David Allison points us to this letter he wrote with Cynthia Kroeger and Andrew Brown: Unsubstantiated conclusions in randomized controlled trial of binge eating program due to Differences in Nominal Significance (DINS) Error Cachelin et al. tested the effects of a culturally adapted, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy-based, guided self-help (CBTgsh) intervention on binge eating reduction . […]

Claims about excess road deaths on “4/20” don’t add up

Sam Harper writes: Since you’ve written about similar papers (that recent NRA study in NEJM, the birthday analysis) before and we linked to a few of your posts, I thought you might be interested in this recent blog post we wrote about a similar kind of study claiming that fatal motor vehicle crashes increase by 12% after 4:20pm […]

Parliamentary Constituency Factsheet for Indicators of Nutrition, Health and Development in India

S. V. Subramanian writes: In India, data on key developmental indicators that formulate policies and interventions are routinely available for the administrative units of districts but not for the political units of Parliamentary Constituencies (PC). Members of Parliament (MPs) in the Lok Sabha, each representing 543 PCs as per the 2014 India map, are the […]

What sort of identification do you get from panel data if effects are long-term? Air pollution and cognition example.

Don MacLeod writes: Perhaps you know this study which is being taken at face value in all the secondary reports: “Air pollution causes ‘huge’ reduction in intelligence, study reveals.” It’s surely alarming, but the reported effect of air pollution seems implausibly large, so it’s hard to be convinced of it by a correlational study alone, […]