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Archive of posts filed under the Sociology category.

Don’t Hate Undecided Voters

This post is by Clay Campaigne, not Andrew. (It says ‘posted by Phil’, and that’s technically true, but I’m just a conduit for Clay here).  This is copied from Clay’s blog, which may have comments of its own so you might want to read it there too. Politics has taken on particular vitriol in recent […]

She’s wary of the consensus based transparency checklist, and here’s a paragraph we should’ve added to that zillion-authored paper

Megan Higgs writes: A large collection of authors describes a “consensus-based transparency checklist” in the Dec 2, 2019 Comment in Nature Human Behavior. Hey—I’m one of those 80 authors! Let’s see what Higgs has to say: I [Higgs] have mixed emotions about it — the positive aspects are easy to see, but I also have […]

“Everybody wants to be Jared Diamond”

As the saying goes, “Everybody wants to be Jared Diamond, that’s the problem.” (See also here and here.) The funny thing is, this principle also applies to . . . Jared Diamond himself! See this review by Anand Giridharadas, sent to me by Mark Palko.

Response to a question about a reference in one of our papers

Tushar Sunkum writes: I like this particular study that you did [with Jeff Fagan and Alex Kiss] on racial profiling. However, I believe that you misrepresented one of the sources on the paper. You state, “For example, two surveys with nationwide probability samples, completed in 1999 and in 2002, showed that African-Americans were far more […]

Social science and the replication crisis (my talk this Thurs 8 Oct)

My talk at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center 3pm (Central European Time): Social science and the replication crisis The replication crisis is typically discussed in the context of particular silly claims, or in terms of the sociology of science, or with regard to controversies in statistical practice. Here we discuss the content of unreplicated […]

The view that the scientific process is “red tape,” just a bunch of hoops you need to jump through so you can move on with your life

Summary Awhile ago I hypothesized that many researchers “think they already know the truth, and they think of discussions of evidence, data quality, statistics, etc., as a sort of ‘red tape’ or distraction from the larger issues.” But now I’m thinking that it’s not just statistics but really the entire scientific process that they view […]

Uri Simonsohn’s Small Telescopes

I just happened to come across this paper from 2015 that makes an important point very clearly: It is generally very difficult to prove that something does not exist; it is considerably easier to show that a tool is inadequate for studying that something. With a small-telescopes approach, instead of arriving at the conclusion that […]

It’s kinda like phrenology but worse. Not so good for the “Nature” brand name, huh? Measurement, baby, measurement.

Federico Mattiello writes: I thought you might find this thread interesting, it’s about a machine learning paper building a “trustworthiness score” from faces databases and historical (mainly British) portraits. It checks many bias boxes I believe, but my biggest complaint (I know it shouldn’t be) is the linear regression of basically spherical clouds of points: […]

“Postmortem of a replication drama in computer science”

Rik de Kort writes: This morning I stumbled across a very interesting blog post, dissecting some drama related to a non-replicating paper in computer science land. The question the paper tries to answer is whether some programming languages are more error prone than others. For a paper in computer science I would expect all their […]

His data came out in the opposite direction of his hypothesis. How to report this in the publication?

Fabio Martinenghi writes: I am a PhD candidate in Economics and I would love to have guidance from you on this issue of scientific communication. I did an empirical study on the effect of a policy. I had an hypothesis, which turned out to be wrong, in the sense the the expected signs of the […]

Taking the bus

Bert Gunter writes: This article on bus ridership is right up your alley [it’s a news article with interactive graphics and lots of social science content]. The problem is that they’re graphing the wrong statistic. Raw ridership is of course sensitive to total population. So they should have been graphing is rates per person, not […]

2 econ Nobel prizes, 1 error

This came up before on the blog but it’s always worth remembering. From Larry White, quoted by Don Boudreaux: As late as the 1989 edition [of his textbook, Paul Samuelson] and coauthor William Nordhaus wrote: “The Soviet economy is proof that, contrary to what many skeptics had earlier believed, a socialist command economy can function […]

Econ grad student asks, “why is the government paying us money, instead of just firing us all?”

Someone who wishes anonymity writes: I am a graduate student at the Department of Economics at a European university. Throughout the last several years, I have been working as RA (and sometimes co-author) together with multiple different professors and senior researchers, mainly within economics, and predominantly analysing very large datasets. I have 3 questions related […]

Battle of the open-science asymmetries

1. Various tenured legacy-science yahoos say: “Any idiot can write a critique; it takes work to do original research.” That’s my paraphrase of various concerns that the replication movement makes it too easy for critics to get cheap publications. 2. Rex Douglass says: “It is an order of magnitude less effort to spam poorly constructed […]

Do we trust this regression?

Kevin Lewis points us to this article, “Do US TRAP Laws Trap Women Into Bad Jobs?”, which begins: This study explores the impact of women’s access to reproductive healthcare on labor market opportunities in the US. Previous research finds that access to the contraception pill delayed age at first birth and increased access to a […]

Their findings don’t replicate, but they refuse to admit they might’ve messed up. (We’ve seen this movie before.)

Ricardo Vieira writes: I have been reading the replication efforts by the datacolada team (in particular Leif Nelson and Joe Simmons). You have already mentioned some of their work here and here. They have just published the #7 installation of the series, and I felt it was a good time to summarize the results for […]

Some possibly different experiences of being a statistician working with an international collaborative research group like OHDSI.

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. Starting at the end of March, I thought it would be good idea to let […]

Some thoughts inspired by Lee Cronbach (1975), “Beyond the two disciplines of scientific psychology”

I happened to come across this article today. It’s hardly obscure—it has over 3000 citations, according to Google scholar—but it was new to me. It’s a wonderful article. You should read it right away. OK, click on the above link and read the article. Done? OK, then read on.

That “not a real doctor” thing . . . It’s kind of silly for people to think that going to medical school for a few years will give you the skills necessary to be able to evaluate research claims in medicine or anything else.

Paul Alper points us to this news article by Abby Phillip, “How a fake doctor made millions from ‘the Dr. Oz Effect’ and a bogus weight-loss supplement,” which begins: When Lindsey Duncan appeared on “The Dr. Oz Show” in 2012, he was introduced as a “naturopathic doctor” and a certified nutritionist. . . . But […]

Updates of bad forecasts: Let’s follow them up and see what happened!

People make bad forecasts, then they move on. Do the forecasts ever get fixed? Do experts learn from their mistakes? Let’s look at three examples. 1. The economist who kept thinking that the Soviets were catching up Paul Samuelson: Yes, the above graph was from 1961, but “in subsequent editions Samuelson presented the same analysis […]