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Archive of posts filed under the Sociology category.

Four projects in the intellectual history of quantitative social science

1. The rise and fall of game theory. My impression is that game theory peaked in the late 1950s. Two classics from that area are Philip K. Dick’s “Solar Lottery” and R. Duncan Luce and Howard Raiffa’s “Games and Decisions.” The latter is charming in its retro attitude that all that remained were some minor […]

No, I don’t think that this study offers good evidence that installing air filters in classrooms has surprisingly large educational benefits.

In a news article on Vox, entitled “Installing air filters in classrooms has surprisingly large educational benefits,” Matthew Yglesias writes: An emergency situation that turned out to be mostly a false alarm led a lot of schools in Los Angeles to install air filters, and something strange happened: Test scores went up. By a lot. […]

Of book reviews and selection bias

Publishers send me books to review. I guess I’m on the list of potential reviewers, which is cool because I often enjoy reading books. And, even if I don’t get much out of a book myself, I can give it to students. A book is a great incentive/reward for class participation. For any book, if […]

Open forensic science, and some general comments on the problems of legalistic thinking when discussing open science

Jason Chin, Gianni Ribeiro, and Alicia Rairden write: The mainstream sciences are experiencing a revolution of methodology. This revolution was inspired, in part, by the realization that a surprising number of findings in the bioscientific literature could not be replicated or reproduced by independent laboratories. In response, scientific norms and practices are rapidly moving towards […]

It happens all the time

Under the subject line, “Here is another one for your archive,” someone points me to a news article and writes: What would have happened had the guy not discovered his coding error? Or what if he had, but the results were essentially unchanged? My guess if that nothing would happen until someone got the data […]

Criminologists be (allegedly) crimin’ . . . and a statistical New Year’s toast for you.

Someone who wishes to remain anonymous points us to this video, writing: It has to do with Stewart at FSU, in criminology. Couldn’t produce a survey that was the basis for 5 papers, all retracted. FSU though still failed to do complete investigation. The preliminary investigation had a 3 person panel, 2 of whom were […]

Fitting big multilevel regressions in Stan?

Joe Hoover writes: I am a social psychology PhD student, and I have some questions about applying MrP to estimation problems involving very large datasets or many sub-national units. I use MrP to obtain sub-national estimates for low-level geographic units (e.g. counties) derived from large data (e.g. 300k-1 million+). In addition to being large, my […]

Horns! Have we reached a new era in skeptical science journalism? I hope so.

Pointing us to this news article from Aylin Woodward, “No, we’re probably not growing horns from our heads because of our cellphone use — here’s the real science,” Jordan Anaya writes: I haven’t looked into it, but seems like your basic terrible study with an attention grabbing headline. Pretty much just mention cell phone use […]

Elon Musk and George Lucas

Seeing another step in the Musk foolishness cycle, I thought of an analogy to another young-middle-aged-guy who was looked on with awe for a long time after his signature accomplishments were over. George Lucas made American Graffiti in 1973 and Star Wars in 1978, and the mystique from those two films lasted a long time. […]

Postdoctoral research position on survey research with us at Columbia School of Social Work

Here it is: The Center on Poverty and Social Policy at the Columbia University School of Social Work, the Columbia Population Research Center, and the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy are seeking a postdoctoral scholar with a PhD in statistics, economics, political science, public policy, demography, psychology, social work, sociology, or a […]

What happened to the hiccups?

Watching Sleepless in Seattle the other day, and at one point the cute kid in the movie gets into a conversation about hiccups, everybody has their own cure for the hiccups, etc. And it got me thinking: What ever happened to the hiccups? When I was a kid, the hiccups occupied a big part of […]

How many Stan users are there?

This is an interesting sampling or measurement problem that came up in a Discourse thread started by Simon Maskell: It seems we could look at a number of pre-existing data sources (eg discourse views and contributors, papers, StanCon attendance etc) to inform an inference of how many people use Stan (and/or use things that use […]

What’s wrong with null hypothesis significance testing

Following up on yesterday’s post, “What’s wrong with Bayes”: My problem is not just with the methods—although I do have problems with the method—but also with the ideology. My problem with the method You’ve heard this a few zillion times before, and not just from me. Null hypothesis significance testing collapses the wavefunction too soon, […]

What’s wrong with Bayes

My problem is not just with the methods—although I do have problems with the method—but also with the ideology. My problem with the method It’s the usual story. Bayesian inference is model-based. Your model will never be perfect, and if you push hard you can find the weak points and magnify them until you get […]

What comes after Vixra?

OK, so Arxiv publishes anything. But some things are so cranky that Arxiv won’t publish them, so they go on Vixra. Here’s my question: where do the people publish, who can’t publish on Vixra? The cranks’ cranks, as it were? It’s a Cantor’s corner kinda thing.

When speculating about causes of trends in mortality rates: (a) make sure that what you’re trying to explain has actually been happening, and (b) be clear where your data end and your speculations begin.

A reporter writes: I’d be very interested in getting your take on this recent paper. I am immensely skeptical of it. That’s not to say many Trump supporters aren’t racist! But we’re now going to claim that this entire rise in all-cause mortality can be attributed to the false sense of lost status? So so […]

Controversies in vaping statistics, leading to a general discussion of dispute resolution in science

Episode 2 Brad Rodu writes: The Journal of the American Heart Association on June 5, 2019, published a bogus research article, “Electronic cigarette use and myocardial infarction among adults in the US Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health [PATH],” by Dharma N. Bhatta and Stanton A. Glantz (here). Drs. Bhatta and Glantz used PATH Wave […]

What happens when frauds are outed because of whistleblowing?

Ashwin Malshe: I would like to bring to your attention a recent controversy in accounting research. It relates to how extreme values may drive results in observational studies. However, this issue is more complex in this specific case because the event (corporate whistleblowing) is rather rare, showing up only about 20% of the time in […]

In research as in negotiation: Be willing to walk away, don’t paint yourself into a corner, leave no hostages to fortune

There’s a saying in negotiation that the most powerful asset is the ability to walk away from the deal. Similarly, in science (or engineering, business decision making, etc.), you have to be willing to give up your favorite ideas. When I look at various embarrassing examples in science during the past decade, a common thread […]

I (inadvertently) misrepresented others’ research in a way that made my story sound better.

During a recent talk (I think it was this one on statistical visualization), I spent a few minutes discussing a political science experiment involving social stimuli and attitudes toward redistribution. I characterized the study as being problematic for various reasons (for background, see this post), and I remarked that you shouldn’t expect to learn much […]