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Archive of posts filed under the Sociology category.

More on the role of hypotheses in science

Just to be clear before going on: when I say “hypotheses,” I’m talking about scientific hypotheses, which can at times be very specific (as in physics, with Maxwell’s equations, relativity theory) but typically have some looseness to them (a biological model of how a particular drug works, a political science model of changes in public […]

Thoughts on “The American Statistical Association President’s Task Force Statement on Statistical Significance and Replicability”

Megan Higgs writes: The statement . . . describes establishment of the task force to “address concerns that a 2019 editorial in The American Statistician (an ASA journal) might be mistakenly interpreted as official ASA policy. (The 2019 editorial recommended eliminating the use of ‘p

On fatally-flawed, valueless papers that journals refuse to retract

Commenter Carlos pointed us to this story (update here) of some scientists—Florin Moldoveanu, Richard Gill, and five others—all of whom seem to know what they’re talking about and who are indignant that the famous Royal Society of London published a paper that’s complete B.S. and then refused to retract it when the error was pointed […]

Impressive visualizations of social mobility

An anonymous tipster points to this news article by Emily Badger, Claire Cain Miller, Adam Pearce, and Kevin Quealy featuring an amazing set of static and dynamic graphs.

She sent a letter pointing out problems with a published article, the reviewers agreed that her comments were valid, but the journal didn’t publish her letter because “the policy among editors is not to accept comments.”

The journal in question is called The Economic Journal. To add insult to injury, the editor wrote the following when announcing they wouldn’t publish the letter: My [the editor’s] assessment is that this paper is a better fit for a field journal in education. OK, let me get this straight. The original paper, which was […]

Honor Thy Father as a classic of Mafia-deflating literature

In an article, “Why New York’s Mob Mythology Endures,” Adam Gopnik writes: [The Mafia] has supplied our only reliable, weatherproof American mythology, one sturdy enough to sustain and resist debunking or revisionism. Cowboys turn out to be racist and settlers genocidal, and even astronauts have flaws. But mobsters come pre-disgraced, as jeans come pre-distressed; what […]

Coronavirus baby bust

Philip Cohen shares the above image and writes: One thing we don’t yet know is how much of [the change in California] is driven by people moving around, rather than just changes in birth rates. California in 2019 had more people leaving the state (before the pandemic) than before, and presumably there have been essentially […]

This awesome Pubpeer thread is about 80 times better than the original paper

This came up already, but in the meantime this paper in the Journal of Surgical Research has been just raked over the coals, over and over and over again, in this delightful Pubpeer thread. 31 comments so far, all of them just slamming the original published paper and many with interesting insights of their own. […]

Meta-meta-science studies

August Wartin asks: Are you are familiar with any (economic) literature that attempts to model academia or the labor market for researchers (or similar), incorporating stuff like e.g. publication bias, researcher degrees of freedom, the garden of forking paths etcetera (and that perhaps also discusses possible proposals/mechanisms to mitigate these problems)? And perhaps you might […]

The University of California statistics department paid at least $329,619.84 to an adjunct professor who did no research, was a terrible teacher, and engaged in sexual harassment

I have one of the easy jobs at the university, well paid with pleasant working conditions. It’s not so easy for adjuncts. Ideally, an adjunct professor has a main job and teaches a course on the side, to stay connected to academia and give back something to the next generation. But in an all-too-common non-ideal […]

This system too often rewards cronyism rather than hard work or creativity — and perpetuates the gross inequalities in representation …

This post is by Lizzie. I started this a while ago, but Andrew’s Doll House post pushed me to finally get it up on the blog. The above quote comes from a recent article on the revelation that the person Philip Roth decided should write his authorized biography has a history of sexual harassment accusations […]

This one has nothing to do with Jamaican beef patties:

Paul Alper writes: In your blog of yesterday, when I brought up chow mein and egg foo young as proof of Chinese interference in the Maricopa recount, you replied, “Do they still serve those things in Chinese restaurants or is that something from decades ago?” Here is my [Alper’s] chow mein and egg foo young […]

More institutional failure by universities that refuse to grapple with potential research misconduct by their faculty

Last year we discussed Why We Sleep, a book that contained misrepresented data. Why We Sleep was written by a professor at the University of California. Alexey Guzey discovered many many problems with the book, including a smoking-gun graph, and Yngve Hoiseth contacted the contacted the University of California to report Walker’s violation of their […]

Still cited only 3 times

I had occasion to refer to this post from a couple years ago on the anthropic principle in statistics. In that post, I wrote: I actually used the anthropic principle in my 2000 article, Should we take measurements at an intermediate design point? (a paper that I love; but I just looked it up and […]

Thinking fast, slow, and not at all: System 3 jumps the shark

By now, we’re all familiar with the three modes of thought. From wikipedia: System 1 is fast, instinctive and emotional. System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. System 3 is when you say things that sound good but make no sense. System 3 can get activated when you trust what someone tells you […]

The insider-outsider perspective (Jim Bouton example)

One theme that’s come up often here over the years is what the late Seth Roberts called the insider-outsider perspective of “people who have the knowledge of insiders but the freedom of outsiders,” and here’s one of many examples. I thought about this again after reading this interview by Steven Goldleaf on Bill James Online […]

Life is long.

Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews a biography by Izabela Wagner of Zygmunt Bauman, a sociologist I’ve never heard of. But he had an eventful life: Zygmunt Bauman was born in 1925 in Poznań, the centre of a province that had been under Prussian/German rule for more than a century before becoming part of the new Polish state […]

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: […]

What did ML researchers talk about in their broader impacts statements?

This is Jessica. A few months back I became fascinated with the NeurIPS broader impact statement “experiment” where NeurIPS organizers asked all authors to in some way address the broader societal implications of their work. It’s an interesting exercise in requiring researchers to make predictions under uncertainty about societal factors they might not be used […]

2 reasons why the CDC and WHO were getting things wrong: (1) It takes so much more evidence to correct a mistaken claim than to establish it in the first place; (2) The implicit goal of much of the public health apparatus is to serve the health care delivery system.

Peter Dorman points to an op-ed by Zeynep Tufekci and writes: This is a high profile piece in the NY Times on why the CDC and WHO have been so resistant to the evidence for aerosol transmission. What makes it relevant is the discussion of two interacting methodological tics, the minimization of Type I error […]

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