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Archive of posts filed under the Sociology category.

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 […]

More on that credulity thing

I see five problems here that together form a feedback loop with bad consequences. Here are the problems: 1. Irrelevant or misunderstood statistical or econometric theory; 2. Poorly-executed research; 3. Other people in the field being loath to criticize, taking published or even preprinted claims as correct until proved otherwise; 4. Journalists taking published or […]

Why did it take so many decades for the behavioral sciences to develop a sense of crisis around methodology and replication?

“On or about December 1910 human character changed.” — Virginia Woolf (1924). Woolf’s quote about modernism in the arts rings true, in part because we continue to see relatively sudden changes in intellectual life, not merely from technology (email and texting replacing letters and phone calls, streaming replacing record sales, etc.) and power relations (for […]

The both both of science reform

This is Jessica. I pay some attention to what gets discussed in methodological/statistical reform research and discussions, and I’m probably not the only one who’s watched as the movement (at least in psychology) seems to be getting more self-aware recently. The other day I jotted down what strike me as some yet-unresolved tensions worth reflecting […]

“Like a harbor clotted with sunken vessels”: update

A few years ago I reported on this story: In 2005, Michael Kosfeld, Markus Heinrichs, Paul Zak, Urs Fischbacher, and Ernst Fehr published a paper, “Oxytocin increases trust in humans.” According to Google, that paper has been cited 3389 times. In 2015, Gideon Nave, Colin Camerer, and Michael McCullough published a paper, “Does Oxytocin Increase […]

Substack.

I read this interesting article by Anna Wiener about Substack, which is a sort of branded blogging and RSS platform that allows writers to charge subscriptions. The topic was interesting to me in part because I’ve been blogging for a long time and in part because as a citizen and consumer of news I am […]

Postdoctoral opportunity with Sarah Cowan and Jennifer Hill: causal inference for Universal Basic Income (UBI)

See below from Sarah Cowan: I write to announce the launch of the Cash Transfer Lab. Our mission is to build an evidence base regarding cash transfer policies like a Universal Basic Income. We answer the fundamental questions of how a Universal Basic Income policy would transform American families, communities and economies. The first major […]

The social sciences are useless. So why do we study them? Here’s a good reason:

Back when I taught at Berkeley, you could always get a reaction from the students by invoking Stanford. The funny thing is, though, if you’re at Stanford and mention Berkeley, nobody cares. You have to bring up Harvard to get a reaction. Similarly, MIT students have a chip on their shoulder about Harvard, but Harvard […]

“The presumption of wisdom and/or virtue causes intellectuals to personalize situations where contending ideas are involved.”

Mark Tuttle writes: A friend recommended the book Intellectuals and Society, by Thomas Sowell. The book is from 2010, but before this recommendation I hadn’t heard of it. Note the last paragraph, below, in the Wikipedia entry: Ego-involvement and personalization The presumption of wisdom and/or virtue causes intellectuals to personalize situations where contending ideas are […]

“From Socrates to Darwin and beyond: What children can teach us about the human mind”

This talk is really interesting. I like how she starts off with the connections between psychological essentialism and political polarization, as an example of the importance of these ideas in so many areas of life.

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