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Archive of posts filed under the Zombies category.

Association Between Universal Curve Fitting in a Health Care Journal and Journal Acceptance Among Health Care Researchers

Matt Folz points us to this recent JAMA article that features this amazing graph: Beautiful. Just beautiful. I say this ironically.

What does it take to be omniscient?

Palko points us to this comment from Josh Marshall: To put it baldly, if it’s a topic and area of study you know nothing about and after a few weeks of cramming you decide that basically everyone who’s studied the question is wrong, there’s a very small chance you’ve rapidly come upon a great insight […]

If variation in effects is so damn important and so damn obvious, why do we hear so little about it?

Earlier today we posted, “To Change the World, Behavioral Intervention Research Will Need to Get Serious About Heterogeneity,” and commenters correctly noted that this point applies not just in behavioral research but also in economics, public health, and other areas. I wanted to follow this up with a question: If variation in effects is so […]

Blog about a column about the Harper’s letter: Here’s some discourse about a discourse about what happens when the discourse takes precedence over reality

I read this op-ed by Tom Scocca and I have some thoughts. To start with, as the above title indicates, the topic is very “meta.” Scocca’s article is a response to an open letter which is a response to criticisms of other people’s negative responses to other people’s criticisms. As a statistician, I can relate […]

New England Journal of Medicine engages in typical academic corporate ass-covering behavior

James Watson (not the racist dude who, in 1998, said that a cancer cure was coming in 2 years) writes: About a month ago, when the infamous Lancet hydroxychloroquine/chloroquine paper was still “real science” (i.e. in the official scientific record), we decided to put extra pressure on the authors by writing an open letter to […]

No, I don’t believe that claim based on regression discontinuity analysis that . . .

tl;dr. See point 4 below. Despite the p-less-than-0.05 statistical significance of the discontinuity in the above graph, no, I do not believe that losing a close election causes U.S. governors to die 5-10 years longer, as was claimed in this recently published article. Or, to put it another way: Despite the p-less-than-0.05 statistical significance of […]

Hey, this was an unusual media request

This popped up in the inbox: Hi Professor Gelman – my name is ** and I’m a journalist who reports on issues of ** conducted by **. Recently ** announced the department was working with “research groups” to study and analyze the **. To further my reporting on this issue, I am reaching out to […]

No, there is no “tension between getting it fast and getting it right”

When reading Retraction Watch, I came across this quote: “There is always a tension between getting it fast and getting it right,” said Dr. Marcia Angell, another former editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine. “I always favored getting it right. But in the current pandemic, that balance may have shifted too […]

Retraction of racial essentialist article that appeared in Psychological Science

Scene 1: It all started for me on 2 Jan when I received this email from Keith Donohue in Fargo, North Dakota: I am a longtime reader, and I am curious about your reaction to an (in press) journal article that I recently came across. . . . The paper is “Declines in Religiosity Predicted […]

Against overly restrictive definitions: No, I don’t think it helps to describe Bayes as “the analysis of subjective
 beliefs” (nor, for that matter, does it help to characterize the statements of Krugman or Mankiw as not being “economics”)

I get frustrated when people use overly restrictive definitions of something they don’t like. Here’s an example of an overly restrictive definition that got me thinking about all this. Larry Wasserman writes (as reported by Deborah Mayo): I wish people were clearer about what Bayes is/is not and what 
frequentist inference is/is not. Bayes is […]

The point here is not the face masks; it’s the impossibility of assumption-free causal inference when the different treatments are entangled in this way.

Adam Pearce writers: When I read your Another Regression Discontinuity Disaster post last year, I was curious how much shifting the breakpoint would change the fit lines. A covid paper making the rounds this weekend used a similar technique so I hooked it up to an interactive widget that lets you tweak the start and […]

“Worthwhile content in PNAS”

Ben Bolker sends an email with the above subject line, a link to this article, and the following content: Experimental evidence that hummingbirds can see purple … researchers used Stan to analyze the data … The article in question is called “Wild hummingbirds discriminate nonspectral colors” and is by Mary Caswell Stoddard, Harold Eyster, Benedict […]

Surgisphere scandal: Lancet still doesn’t get it

So. I opened the newspaper today and saw this article by Roni Caryn Rabin, “Two Retractions Hurt Credibility of Peer Review.” It was about the Surgisphere scandal, which we’ve discussed a few times in this space, going from Doubts about that article claiming that hydroxychloroquine/chloroquine is killing people to How should those Lancet/Surgisphere/Harvard data have […]

Fake MIT journalists misrepresent real Buzzfeed journalist. (Maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised?)

It’s a funny thing. MIT—the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—that sounds like a serious place. They do lots of excellent work at MIT. It’s the top engineering school in the world! Buzzfeed—that’s some online newspaper, it’s not serious, right? We joke sometimes about Buzzfeed-style headlines. But when it comes to journalism, Buzzfeed is the real thing, […]

MIT’s science magazine misrepresents critics of Stanford study

I’m disappointed. MIT can and should do better. I know MIT is not perfect—even setting aside Jeffrey Epstein and the Media Lab more generally, it’s just an institution, and all institutions have flaws. But they should be able to run a competent science magazine, for chrissake. Scene 1 Last month, I received the following query […]

Making fun of Ted talks

This never gets old . . . Palko points to this news article by Ed Yong, which contains the quote, “Ten years ago today, at a TED conference, a neuroscientist claimed that he could simulate the human brain in ten years. And, er, that didn’t happen. Here’s a look at why, and whether the goal […]

Parking lot statistics—a story in three parts

Part 1: Here’s a 1993 article from the American Sociological Review in which church attendance was measured by the number of cars in the parking lot (link from here). Part 2: In 2005 or 2006, an economist who does statistics reportedly tries to run over a sociologist who does statistics in a parking lot (but […]

bla bla bla PEER REVIEW bla bla bla

OK, I’ve been saying this over the phone to a bunch of journalists during the past month so I might as well share it with all of you . . . 1. The peers . . . The problem with peer review is the peers. Who are “the peers” of four M.D.’s writing up an […]

How should those Lancet/Surgisphere/Harvard data have been analyzed?

As you will recall, the original criticism of the recent Lancet/Surgisphere/Harvard paper on hydro-oxy-whatever was not that the data came from a Theranos-like company that employs more adult-content models than statisticians, but rather that the data, being observational, required some adjustment to yield strong causal conclusions—and the causal adjustment reported in that article did not […]

Thank you, James Watson. Thank you, Peter Ellis. (Lancet: You should do the right thing and credit them for your retraction. Actually, do one better and invite them to write a joint editorial in your journal.)

So, Lancet issued a retraction of that controversy hydro-oxy-choloro-supercalifragilisticexpialadocious paper. From three of the four authors of the now-retracted paper: After publication of our Lancet Article, several concerns were raised with respect to the veracity of the data and analyses conducted by Surgisphere Corporation and its founder and our co-author, Sapan Desai, in our publication. […]