Skip to content
Archive of posts filed under the Zombies category.

“A Headline That Will Make Global-Warming Activists Apoplectic” . . . how’s that one going, Freakonomics team?

I saw this article in the newspaper today, “2020 Ties 2016 as Hottest Yet, European Analysis Shows,” and accompanied by the above graph, and this reminded me of something. A few years ago there was a cottage industry among some contrarian journalists, making use of the fact that 1998 was a particularly hot year (by […]

Weakliem on air rage and himmicanes

Weakliem writes: I think I see where the [air rage] analysis went wrong. The dependent variable was whether or not an “air rage” incident happened on the flight. Two important influences on the chance of an incident are the number of passengers and how long the flight was (their data apparently don’t include the number […]

xkcd: “Curve-fitting methods and the messages they send”

We can’t go around linking to xkcd all the time or it would just fill up the blog, but this one is absolutely brilliant. You could use it as the basis for a statistics Ph.D. I came across it in this post from Palko, which is on the topic of that Dow 36,000 guy who […]

NYT editor described columnists as “people who are paid to have very, very strong convictions, and to believe that they’re right.”

Enrico Schaar points out this news article from 2018 by Ashley Feinberg about the New York Times editorial page. Feinberg writes: In the December meeting, [New York Times editorial page editor James] Bennet described columnists as “people who are paid to have very, very strong convictions, and to believe that they’re right.” [A.G.] Sulzberger [now […]

Megan Higgs (statistician) and Anna Dreber (economist) on how to judge the success of a replication

The discussion started with this comment from Megan Higgs regarding a recent science replication initiative: I [Higgs] was immediately curious about their criteria for declaring a study replicated. In a quick skim of the info in the google form, here it is: In the survey of beliefs, you will be asked for (a) the probability […]

Most controversial posts of 2020

Last year we posted 635 entries on this blog. Above is a histogram of the number of comments on each of the posts. The bars are each of width 5, except that I made a special bar just for the posts with zero comments. There’s nothing special about zero here; some posts get only 1 […]

“Maybe the better analogy is that these people are museum curators and we’re telling them that their precious collection of Leonardos, which they have been augmenting at a rate of about one per month, include some fakes.”

Someone sent me a link to a recently published research paper and wrote: As far as any possible coverage on your blog goes, this one didn’t come from me, please. It just looks… baffling in a lot of different ways. OK, so it didn’t come from that person. I read the paper and replied: Oh, […]

“Translation Plagiarism”

Michael Dougherty writes: Disguised plagiarism often goes undetected. An especially subtle type of disguised plagiarism is translation plagiarism, which occurs when the work of one author is republished in a different language with authorship credit taken by someone else. I’ve seen this done, where the original language is statistics and the translated language is political […]

Three unblinded mice

I happened to come across this post from 2013 disucssing a news article by Jennifer Couzin-Frankel, who writes about the selection bias arising from the routine use of outcome criteria to exclude animals in medical trials: Couzin-Frankel starts with an example of a drug trial in which 3 of the 10 mice in the treatment […]

Why We Sleep—a tale of non-replication.

Good to have a non-coronavirus post that I can put on delay . . . After reading our recent post, “Why We Sleep — a tale of institutional failure”, David Shanks wrote: You may be interested to know that a little while ago we were completely unable to replicate a key result by Walker and […]

Does regression discontinuity (or, more generally, causal identification + statistical significance) make you gullible?

Yes basically. This one’s pretty much a perfect example of overfitting, finding a discontinuity out of noise, in that if you just draw a smooth line through each graph, it actually looks better than the discontinuous version. We see this a lot: There’s no discontinuity in the data, but it’s possible to make a discontinuity […]

Update on IEEE’s refusal to issue corrections

This is Jessica. Below is an update from Steve Haroz on his previously shared attempt to get a correction to an IEEE published paper. A week ago, I wrote about IEEE’s refusal to issue corrections for errors we made in our paper, “Skipping the Replication Crisis in Visualization: Threats to Study Validity and How to […]

BREAKING: MasterClass Announces NEW Class on Science of Sleep by Neuroscientist & Sleep Expert Matthew Walker – Available NOW

OK, usually our posts are on 6-month delay. Sometimes they get bumped a couple times and don’t appear until more than a year after I’ve written them. Other times I write something topical and I’ll schedule it for sometime during the next few days. But this one is different. It’s NEW and it’s NOW and […]

No, It’s Not a Prisoner’s Dilemma (the second in a continuing series):

The prisoner’s dilemma is the original counterintuitive hot take. Some social scientists and journalists just looove that dilemma because of how delightfully paradoxical it can be. But some situations that are described as prisoner’s dilemmas aren’t really. I discussed one such example in my article, Methodology as ideology: Some comments on Robert Axelrod’s “The Evolution […]

More on the Heckman curve

David Rea writes: A slightly more refined version of our paper on the Heckman Curve [discussed on blog last year] has been published in the Journal of Economic Surveys. The journal will also publish a response by James Heckman, as well as a reply from us. As you predicted, James Heckman’s critique of our work […]

Risk aversion is not a thing

I came across this post by Alex Tabarrok arguing that people should be given one rather than two doses of a new vaccine. I know nothing about these vaccines but my attention was drawn to this statement from Alex: We should vaccinate 6 million people with first dose NOW. It is deadly cautious to hold […]

In this particular battle between physicists and economists, I’m taking the economists’ side.

Palko writes, “When the arrogance of physicists and economists collide, it’s kind of like watching Godzilla battle Rodan . . . you aren’t really rooting for either side but you can still enjoy the show.” Hey! Some of my best friends are physicists and economists! But I know what he’s talking about. Here’s the story […]

Deterministic thinking meets the fallacy of the one-sided bet

Kevin Lewis asked me what I thought of this news article: Could walking barefoot on grass improve your health? Some science suggests it can. . . . The idea behind grounding, also called earthing, is humans evolved in direct contact with the Earth’s subtle electric charge, but have lost that sustained connection thanks to inventions […]

Debate involving a bad analysis of GRE scores

This is one of these academic ping-pong stories of a general opinion, an article that challenges the general opinion, a rebuttal to that article, a rebuttal to the rebuttal, etc. I’ll label the positions as A1, B1, A2, B2, and so forth: A1: The starting point is that Ph.D. programs in the United States typically […]

What do Americans think about coronavirus restrictions? Let’s see what the data say . . .

Back in May, I looked at a debate regarding attitudes toward coronavirus restrictions. The whole thing was kind of meta, in the sense that rather than arguing about what sorts of behavioral and social restrictions would be appropriate to control the disease at minimal cost, people were arguing about what were the attitudes held in […]

Best CBD Oil for Pain (2021)

CBD Gummies

CBD Oil for Kids (2021)

Best CBD Oil for Anxiety (2021)