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Archive of posts filed under the Zombies category.

Battle for the headline: Hype and the effect of statistical significance on the ability of journalists to engage in critical thinking

A few people pointed me to this article, “Battle for the thermostat: Gender and the effect of temperature on cognitive performance,” which received some uncritical press coverage here and here. And, of course, on NPR. “543 students in Berlin, Germany” . . . good enuf to make general statements about men and women, I guess! […]

Epic Pubpeer thread continues

Here. (background here and here)

The incentives are all wrong (causal inference edition)

I was talking with some people the other day about bad regression discontinuity analyses (see this paper for some statistical background on the problems with these inferences), examples where the fitted model just makes no sense. The people talking with me asked the question: OK, we agree that the published analysis was no good. What […]

“The paper has been blind peer-reviewed and published in a highly reputable journal, which is the gold standard in scientific corroboration. Thus, all protocol was followed to the letter and the work is officially supported.”

Robert MacDonald points us to this news article by Esther Addley: It’s another example of what’s probably bad science being published in a major journal, where other researchers point out its major flaws and the author doubles down. In this case, the University of Bristol has an interesting reaction. It’s pulled down its article praising […]

The climate economics echo chamber: Gremlins and the people (including a Nobel prize winner) who support them

Jay Coggins, a professor of applied economics at the university of Minnesota, writes in with some thoughts about serious problems of within the field of environmental economics: Your latest on Tol [a discussion of a really bad paper he published in The Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, “the official journal of the Association of […]

The 5,000 Retractions of Dr. E

Rigor, of course, but put a lid on the aggression & call off the social media hate mobs.

Kool-aid != Dogfood, and Certainty is no substitute for knowledge.

Palko quotes from this news article by Shirin Ghaffary quoting Marcelo Claure, the new executive chairman of the recent Ponzi scheme WeWork. Here’s Claure, in a speech to WeWork employees: [W]e got to drink our own Kool-aid, we got to make sure that if we’re selling this magic to others, we got to have this […]

“Any research object with a strong and obvious series of inconsistencies may be deemed too inaccurate to trust, irrespective of their source. In other words, the description of inconsistency makes no presumption about the source of that inconsistency.”

Nick Brown and James Heathers write: We have seen two documents from the Scientific Integrity Officer at the University of Rennes-2 . . . The first of these dates from June 2018 and is entitled (our translation from French), “Preliminary Investigation Report Regarding the Allegations of Fraud against Nicolas Guéguen”. . . . We would […]

Social science plaig update

OK, we got two items for you, one in political science and one in history. Both are updates on cases we’ve discussed in the past on this blog. I have no personal connection to any of the people involved; my only interest is annoyance at the ways in which plagiarism pollutes scientific understanding and the […]

The real lesson learned from those academic hoaxes: a key part of getting a paper published in a scholarly journal is to be able to follow the conventions of the journal. And some people happen to be good at that, irrespective of the content of the papers being submitted.

I wrote this email to a colleague: Someone pointed me to this paper. It’s really bad. It was published by The Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, “the official journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists and the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.” Is this a real organization? The whole thing […]

The status-reversal heuristic

Awhile ago we came up with the time-reversal heuristic, which was a reaction to the common situation that there’s a noisy study, followed by an unsuccessful replication, but all sorts of people want to take the original claim as the baseline and construct high walls to make it difficult to move away from that claim. […]

A heart full of hatred: 8 schools edition

No; I was all horns and thorns Sprung out fully formed, knock-kneed and upright — Joanna Newsom Far be it for me to be accused of liking things. Let me, instead, present a corner of my hateful heart. (That is to say that I’m supposed to be doing a really complicated thing right now and […]

On the term “self-appointed” . . .

I was reflecting on what bugs me so much about people using the term “self-appointed” (for example, when disparaging “self-appointed data police” or “self-appointed chess historians“). The obvious question when someone talks about “self-appointed” whatever is, Who self-appointed you to decide who is illegitimately self-appointed? But my larger concern is with the idea that being […]

Elsevier > Association for Psychological Science

Everyone dunks on Elsevier. But here’s a case where they behaved well. Jordan Anaya points us to this article from Retraction Watch: In May, [psychology professor Barbara] Fredrickson was last author of a paper in Psychoneuroendocrinology claiming to show that loving-kindness meditation slowed biological aging, specifically that it kept telomeres — which protect chromosomes — […]

Are statistical nitpickers (e.g., Kaiser Fung and me) getting the way of progress or even serving the forces of evil?

As Ira Glass says, today we have a theme and some variations on this theme. Statistical nitpickers: Do they cause more harm than good? I’d like to think we cause more good than harm, but today I want to consider the counter-argument, that, even when we are correct on the technical merits, we statisticians should […]

More on that 4/20 road rage researcher: Dude could be a little less amused, a little more willing to realize he could be on the wrong track with a lot of his research.

So, back on 4/20 we linked to the post by Sam Harper and Adam Palayew shooting down a silly article, published in JAMA and publicized around the world, that claimed excess road deaths on 4/20 (“cannabis day”). I googled the authors of that silly JAMA paper and found that one of them, Dr. Donald Redelmeier, […]

Kaiser Fung suggests “20 paper ideas pre-approved for prestigious journals”

I got to thinking about this after reading a post from Kaiser Fung “offering up 20 paper ideas pre-approved for prestigious journals.” What happened is that JAMA published a silly paper claiming a 12 percent increase in fatal car crashes on April 20 (“420 day,” the unofficial marijuana holiday). Following Sam Harper and Adam Palayew, […]

P-value of 10^-74 disappears

Nick Matzke writes: Given the recent discussion of p-values, you or colleagues might find this interesting: Population Genetics: Why structure matters Nick Barton, Joachim Hermisson, Magnus Nordborg One possibility is to compare the population estimates with estimates taken from sibling data, which should be relatively unbiased by environmental differences. In one of many examples of […]

Schoolmarms and lightning bolts: Data faker meets Edge foundation in an unintentional reveal of problems with the Great Man model of science

Hey—I happened to run across an article by Virginia Heffernan on the now-notorious Edge foundation, and it contained a link to all sorts of people . . . including Marc Hauser, the disgraced primatologist who we’ve discussed in this space from time to time. Here’s an Edge article by Hauser in 2002—almost a decade before […]

Junk science and fake news: Similarities and differences

Jingyi Kenneth Tay writes: As I read your recent post, “How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes Hope, and Wastes Billions” . . . and still stays around even after it’s been retracted, I realized that there are many similarities between this and fake news: how it is much easier to put fake news out […]