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Archive of posts filed under the Sociology category.

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 […]

Whassup with the weird state borders on this vaccine hesitancy map?

Luke Vrotsos writes: I thought you might find this interesting because it relates to questionable statistics getting a lot of media coverage. HHS has a set of county-level vaccine hesitancy estimates that I saw in the NYT this morning in this front-page article. It’s also been covered in the LA Times and lots of local […]

Thoughts inspired by “the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife”

1. Harvard’s current position on the matter This is at Harvard University’s website: But, no, it’s not a “Coptic Papyrus Fragment.” That’s a lie. Or, I guess, several years ago we could call that statement a mistake, but given that it’s been known to be false for several years, I think it’s fair to call […]

“Off white: A preliminary taxonomy”

Lots has been written on this topic (“How the Irish Became White,” etc.), but this post by Paul Campos is an amusing starting point. As he points out, we often think about race/ethnicity/nationality in the context of U.S. politics, but it’s an issue, one way or another, pretty much everywhere in the world.

A new journal dedicated to quantitative description focused on digital media topic

Andy Guess, Kevin Munger, and Eszter Hargittai write: We’re thrilled to announce the launch of the new Journal of Quantitative Description: Digital Media. We have 18 great papers in the inaugural batch. We explain our rationale for a new journal in this piece. Sign up for our mailing list here. Please send us your best […]

Open data and quality: two orthogonal factors of a study

It’s good for a study to have open data, and it’s good for the study to be high quality. If for simplicity we dichotomize these variables, we can find lots of examples in all four quadrants: – Unavailable data, low quality: The notorious ESP paper from 2011 and tons of papers published during that era […]

“Analysis challenges slew of studies claiming ocean acidification alters fish behavior”

Lizzie Wolkovich writes: Here’s an interesting new paper in climate change ecology that states, “Using data simulations, we additionally show that the large effect sizes and small within-group variances that have been reported in several previous studies are highly improbable.” I [Lizzie] wish I were more surprised, but mostly I was impressed they did the […]

Cancer patients be criming? Some discussion and meta-discussion of statistical modeling, causal inference, and social science:

1. Meta-story Someone pointed me to a news report of a statistics-based research claim and asked me what I thought of it. I read through the press summary and the underlying research paper. At this point, it’s natural to anticipate one of two endpoints: I like the paper, or I don’t. The results seem reasonable […]

Questions about our old analysis of police stops

I received this anonymous email: I read your seminal work on racial bias in stops with Professors Fagan and Kiss and just had a few questions. 1. Your paper analyzed stops at the precinct level. A critique I have heard regarding aggregating data at that level is that: “To say that the threshold test can […]

A recommender system for scientific papers

Jeff Leek writes: We created a web app that lets people very quickly sort papers on two axes: how interesting it is and how plausible they think it is. We started with covid papers but have plans to expand it to other fields as well. Seems like an interesting idea, a yelp-style recommender system but […]

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