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Archive of posts filed under the Zombies category.

Stanford prison experiment

Mark Palko points us to a review by Alison Abbott of a book by Susannah Cahalan telling a disturbing story of a psychology professor at a prestigious university who had stunning academic and popular success based on research that he seems to have incorrectly and misleadingly reported. Disturbing—but not surprising, given we now have a […]

What is the relevance of “bad science” to our understanding of “good science”?

We spend some time talking about junk science, or possible junk science, most recently that book about sleep, but we have lots of other examples such as himmicanes, air rage, ages ending in 9, pizzagate, weggy, the disgraced primatologist, regression discontinuity disasters, beauty and sex ratio, the critical positivity ratio, slaves and serfs, gremlins, and […]

Is sqrt(2) a normal number?

In a paper from 2018, Pierpaolo Uberti writes: In this paper we study the property of normality of a number in base 2. A simple rule that associates a vector to a number is presented and the property of normality is stated for the vector associated to the number. The problem of testing a number […]

My thoughts on “What’s Wrong with Social Science and How to Fix It: Reflections After Reading 2578 Papers”

Chetan Chawla and Asher Meir point us to this post by Alvaro de Menard, who writes: Over the past year, I [Menard] have skimmed through 2578 social science papers, spending about 2.5 minutes on each one. What a great beginning! I can relate to this . . . indeed, it roughly describes my experience as […]

Nudgelords: Given their past track record, why should I trust them this time? (Don’t call me Stasi)

An economist who wants to remain nameless sent me an email with subject line Hilarious and with the following text: https://www.amazon.com/Averting-Catastrophe-Decision-Potential-Disasters/dp/1479808482 The link is to a listing for a forthcoming book, Averting Catastrophe: Decision Theory for COVID-19, Climate Change, and Potential Disasters of All Kinds, by Cass R. Sunstein. The book “explores how governments ought […]

Justin Grimmer vs. the Hoover Institution commenters

I was curious what was up with the Hoover Institution so I went to their webpage and was pleased to come across a post, No Evidence For Voter Fraud: A Guide To Statistical Claims About The 2020 Election, by political scientist Justin Grimmer, with this clear summary: We focus on fraud allegations with the appearance […]

The “story time” is to lull us in with a randomized controlled experiment and as we fall asleep, feed us less reliable conclusions that come from an embedded observational study.

Kaiser Fung explains. This comes up a lot, and his formulation in the above title is a good way of putting it. He also has this discussion of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine trial results which makes me want to just do a damn Bayesian analysis of it already. I’ll have to find someone with the right […]

One more cartoon like this, and this blog will be obsolete.

This post is by Phil. This SMBC cartoon seems to wrap up about half of the content of this blog.  Of course I’m exaggerating. There will still be room for book reviews and cat photos.

Will the pandemic cause a decline in births? We’ll be able to resolve this particular debate in about 9 months . . .

The fallacy of the one-sided bet I’m gonna be talking about a news article and research paper asking the question, “Will coronavirus cause a baby boom, or is that just a myth?” And my problem is the fallacy of the one-sided bet: By asking the question, is there a positive effect or is it zero, […]

“How We’re Duped by Data” and how we can do better

Richard Juster points us to this press release by Laura Counts from the business school of the University of California, promoting the work of Leif Nelson, one of the authors of the modern classic paper on “false-positive psychology” and “researcher degrees of freedom.” It’s great to see this sort of work get positive publicity. I […]

Scott Atlas, Team Stanford, and their friends

A recent comment thread revealed the existence of an organization called Panda: “Pandemics ~ Data & Analytics.” Its scientific advisory board includes Scott Atlas, the former U.S. government advisor described on the website as a “world renowned physician.” He’s now at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. Atlas most recently appeared on Fox News to say, “It is […]

“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 […]

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