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Archive of posts filed under the Zombies category.

Noise-mining as standard practice in social science

The following example is interesting, not because it is particularly noteworthy but rather because it represents business as usual in much of social science: researchers trying their best, but hopelessly foiled by their use of crude psychological theories and cruder statistics, along with patterns of publication and publicity that motivate the selection and interpretation of […]

Stasi’s back in town. (My last post on Cass Sunstein and Richard Epstein.)

OK, I promise, this will be the last Stasi post ever. tl;dr: This post is too long. Don’t read it.

The value (or lack of value) of preregistration in the absence of scientific theory

Javier Benitez points us to this 2013 post by psychology researcher Denny Borsboom. I have some thoughts on this article—in particular I want to compare psychology to other social science fields such as political science and economics—but first let me summarize it. Preregistration and open science Borsboom writes: In the past few months, the Center […]

Are we ready to move to the “post p < 0.05 world”?

Robert Matthews writes: Your post on the design and analysis of trials really highlights how now more than ever it’s vital the research community takes seriously all that “nit-picking stuff” from statisticians about the dangers of faulty inferences based on null hypothesis significance testing. These dangers aren’t restricted to the search for new therapies. I’m […]

“Why We Sleep — a tale of institutional failure”

Table of contents Chapter 1. The latest chapter in Why We Sleep, a Saga of Research Misconduct Chapter 2. Why do we keep writing about this? Chapter 1: The latest chapter in Why We Sleep, a Saga of Research Misconduct In our previous installment of this podcast, we learned from independent researcher Alexey Guzey that […]

“As a girl, she’d been very gullible, but she had always learned more that way.”

I keep thinking about the above quote, which is from the Lorrie Moore story, “Community Life.” I’ve read some Lorrie Moore from time to time, but I found out about this particular story by hearing it on the New Yorker fiction podcast (which I absolutely love, but that’s a topic for another post). What struck […]

He’s annoyed that PNAS desk-rejected his article.

Baruch Eitam writes: This may be a rant I don’t think so and so I am sharing it with you but one can never be sure. Just had a paper desk rejected from PNAS. You may not appreciate the journal but it is one of the most important journals a psychologist can publish in. So […]

Breaking the feedback loop: When people don’t correct their errors

OK, so here’s the pattern: 1. Someone makes a public statement with an error, an error that advances some political or personal agenda. 2. Some other people point out the error. 3. The original author refuses to apologize, or correct the error, or thank people for pointing out the error, and sometimes they don’t even […]

The Road Back

Paul Kedrosky points us to this news article by Liam Mannix, “Cold water poured on scientific studies based on ‘statistical cult.’” Here’s what I wrote about this when it came up last year: The whole thing seems pretty pointless to me. I agree with Kristin Sainani that the paper on MBI does not make sense. […]

Junk Science Then and Now

Many years ago, Martin Gardner wrote a book, Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science, featuring chapters on flat earth and eccentric astronomy theories, UFO’s, alternative physics, dowsing, creationism, Lysenkoism, pyramid truthers, medical quacks, food faddists, ESP, etc. The Wikipedia page summarizes Gardner’s book as follows: Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science […]

You don’t want a criminal journal… you want a criminal journal

“You don’t want a criminal lawyer… you want a criminal lawyer.” — Jesse Pinkman. In what sense is it a “blood sport” to ask someone for their data? That’s our question for the day. But it’ll take us a few paragraphs to get there. 1. A case of missing data Jordan Anaya points us to […]

“What is the conclusion of a clinical trial where p=0.6?”

Frank Harrell shares this horror story: In speaking with PhD students at various graduate programs, it has become clear that those who are not exposed to Bayesian or the likelihoodist schools simply do not understand type I error, p-values, and hypothesis tests. I asked a group of biostat PhD students at a famous program: “What […]

Vaping statistics controversy update: A retraction and some dispute

A few months ago we reported on two controversies regarding articles in the medical literature on the risks of e-cigarettes (vaping). One of the controversial papers was “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, published in […]

Recent unpublished papers

You perhaps notice our published papers when they appear in journals: [2020] Expectation propagation as a way of life: A framework for Bayesian inference on partitioned data. {\em Journal of Machine Learning Research} {\bf 21}, 1–53. (Aki Vehtari, Andrew Gelman, Tuomas Sivula, Pasi Jylanki, Dustin Tran, Swupnil Sahai, Paul Blomstedt, John P. Cunningham, David Schiminovich, […]

This study could be just fine, or not. Maybe I’ll believe it if there’s an independent preregistered replication.

David Allison sent along this article, Sexually arousing ads induce sex-specific financial decisions in hungry individuals, by Tobias Otterbringa and Yael Sela, and asked whether I buy it. I replied that maybe I’ll believe it if there’s an independent preregistered replication. I’ve just seen too many of these sort of things to ever believe them […]

Researcher offers ridiculous reasons for refusing to reassess work in light of serious criticism

Jordan Anaya writes: This response from Barbara Fredrickson to one of Nick’s articles got posted the other day. Alex Holcombe has a screenshot of the article on Twitter. The issue that I have with the response is that she says she stands by the peer review process that led to her article getting published. But […]

“Repeating the experiment” as general advice on data collection

Izzy Kates points to the above excerpt from Introductory Statistics, by Neil Weiss, 9th edition, and points out: Nowhere is repeating the experiment mentioned. This isn’t the only time this mistake is made. Good point! We don’t mention replication as a statistical method in our books either! Even when we talk about the replication crisis, […]

Intended consequences are the worst

I saw this news story by Jesse Drucker and Eric Lipton, headlined, “Meant to Lift Poor Areas, Tax Break is Boon to Rich.” The news article is informative, and the story it tells is horrifying. Beyond all that, I’m bothered by the headline, as it seems that the scamtastic aspect of this tax benefit was […]

The hot hand fallacy fallacy rears its ugly ugly head

Funny how repeating the word “fallacy” reverses the meaning, but repeating the word “ugly” just intensifies it . . . Anyway, Josh Miller points us to this article by what must be the last person on the planet to write uncritically about the so-called “hot hand fallacy.” It’s in the blog of the Society for […]

MRP Carmelo Anthony update . . . Trash-talking’s fine. But you gotta give details, or links, or something!

Before getting to the main post, let me just say that I’m a big fan of Nate Silver. Just for one example: I’m on record as saying that primary elections are hard to predict. So I don’t even try. But there’s lots of information out there: poll data, fundraising numbers, expert opinion, delegate selection rules, […]