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Archive of posts filed under the Sociology category.

Evidence-based medicine eats itself

There are three commonly stated principles of evidence-based research: 1. Reliance when possible on statistically significant results from randomized trials; 2. Balancing of costs, benefits, and uncertainties in decision making; 3. Treatments targeted to individuals or subsets of the population. Unfortunately and paradoxically, the use of statistics for hypothesis testing can get in the way […]

Putting Megan Higgs and Thomas Basbøll in the room together

OK, the’re both on the blogroll so maybe they already know about each other. But, just in case . . . here are two recent posts: Higgs, Fact detector? It is not.: Let’s assume that most people see science as the process of collecting more and more facts (where facts are taken as evidence of […]

Are GWAS studies of IQ/educational attainment problematic?

Nick Matzke writes: I wonder if you or your blog-colleagues would be interested in giving a quick blog take on the recent studies that do GWAS (Genome-Wide-Association Studies) on “traits” like IQ, educational attainment, and income? Matzke begins with some background: The new method for these studies is to claim that a “polygenic score” can […]

Which teams have fewer fans than their namesake? I pretty much like this person’s reasoning except when we get to the chargers and raiders.

Someone pointed me to this delightful collection of short statistical analyses: In the Chicago Bears roast thread, 69memelordharambe420 posted “There are more Bears than Bears fans.” That got me [the author of this post] thinking: Is that true? And more generally, which teams have fewer fans than there exist whatever they’re named after? To start, […]

The intellectual explosion that didn’t happen

A few years ago, we discussed the book, “A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race, and Human History,” by New York Times reporter Nicholas Wade. Wade’s book was challenging to read and review because it makes lots of claims that are politically explosive and could be true but do not seem clearly proved given available data. There’s […]

The latest Perry Preschool analysis: Noisy data + noisy methods + flexible summarizing = Big claims

Dean Eckles writes: Since I know you’re interested in Heckman’s continued analysis of early childhood interventions, I thought I’d send this along: The intervention is so early, it is in their parents’ childhoods. See the “Perry Preschool Project Outcomes in the Next Generation” press release and the associated working paper. The estimated effects are huge: […]

Are the tabloids better than we give them credit for?

Joshua Vogelstein writes: I noticed you disparage a number of journals quite frequently on your blog. I wonder what metric you are using implicitly to make such evaluations? Is it the number of articles that they publish that end up being bogus? Or the fraction of articles that they publish that end up being bogus? […]

Where are the famous dogs? Where are the famous animals?

We were having a conversation the other day about famous dogs. There are surprisingly few famous dogs. Then I realized it’s not just that. There are very few famous animals, period. If you exclude racehorses and the pets of heads of state, these are all the famous animals we could think of: dogs: Lassie, Rin […]

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 […]