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## About those claims that the election forecasts hurt the Democrats in November

One reason that I’m skeptical of these claims of depressed voter turnout is that I’m old, and I remember the 1980 election. People blamed the Democrats’ poor performance in the west coast on the fact that the election had been called for Reagan before the polls had closed in those states. So the message seems […]

## Nicky Guerreiro and Ethan Simon write a Veronica Geng-level humor piece

I don’t usually go around recommending amusing things that are completely off topic to the blog, but this piece by Nicky Guerreiro and Ethan Simon was just too funny. It’s Veronica Geng-level quality, and I don’t say that lightly. As with Geng’s articles, you can laugh and be horrified at the same time. The story […]

## When to use ordered categorical regression?

Alex Andorra writes: I was re-reading section 15.5 (multinomial models) of Regression and Other Stories, and this portion page 275 made me curious: Examples of ordered categorical outcomes include Democrat, Independent, Republican; Is this a typo, or can these categories really be considered as ordered in a multinomial model? If this is indeed a typo, […]

## He wants to test whether his distribution has infinite variance. I have other ideas . . .

Evan Warfel asks a question: Let’s say that a researcher is collecting data on people for an experiment. Furthermore, it just so happens that due to the data collection procedure, data is gathered and recorded in 100-person increments. (Making it so that the researcher effectively has a time series, and at some point t, they […]

## Probability problem involving multiple coronavirus tests in the same household

Mark Tuttle writes: Here is a potential homework problem for your students. The following is a true story. Mid-December, we have a household with five people. My wife and myself, and three who arrived from elsewhere. Subsequently, various diverse symptoms ensue – nothing too serious, but everyone is concerned, obviously. Video conference for all five […]

## When does a misunderstanding reach the point where it is recognized to be flat-out ridiculous?

James Lasdun reviews a book by Ariel Sabar telling the story of a conman who sold a fake Bible-related document to a Harvard professor, leading to academic publications and media publicity before the whole thing fell apart. The most amusing of many amusing bits: An Egyptologist at Brown University, Leo Depuydt, found a ‘colossal double […]

## Rasslin’ over writin’ teachin’

In an article entitled, “Our Students Can’t Write. We Have Ourselves to Blame,” college professor Robert Zaretsky writes: I, for one, spend my semesters picking through the salads tossed and served up as papers by my students. Consider the opening paragraph from a paper I received this semester. The student, who chose to write on […]

## More institutional failure by universities that refuse to grapple with potential research misconduct by their faculty

Last year we discussed Why We Sleep, a book that contained misrepresented data. Why We Sleep was written by a professor at the University of California. Alexey Guzey discovered many many problems with the book, including a smoking-gun graph, and Yngve Hoiseth contacted the contacted the University of California to report Walker’s violation of their […]

## In making minimal corrections and not acknowledging that he made these errors, Rajan is dealing with the symptoms but not the underlying problem, which is that he’s processing recent history via conventional wisdom.

Raghuram Rajan is an academic and policy star, University of Chicago professor, former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund, and former chief economic advisor to the government of India, and featured many times in NPR and other prestige media. He also appears to be in the habit of telling purportedly data-backed stories that aren’t […]

## Your tax dollars at work (junk social science edition)

A couple people pointed me to this article: With this sort of work, I always wonder whether people who do this sort of thing really believe what they’re doing, or if they’re purposely complexifying things, the way that in chess you might try to make the board position more complex if you’re down a couple […]

## Lawrence H. Summers, meet Albert O. Hirschman

Zach Carter quotes former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers as saying “\$2,000 checks would be a pretty serious mistake” because larger stimulus checks to Americans could risk overheating the economy. Carter replies, “he’s right about there being conceptually better uses for the money, but the idea that we risk ‘a temporary overheat’ of the economy […]

## The revelation came while hearing a background music version of Iron Butterfly’s “In A Gadda Da Vida” at a Mr. Steak restaurant in Colorado

I just read “Elevator Music: A Surreal History of Musak, Easy-Listening, and Other Moodsong,” written by Joseph Lanza and published in 1994, around the same time as V. Vale’s and Andrea Juno’s cult classic book, “Incredibly Strange Music.” Lanza’s book was witty, thought-provoking, and informative, and I liked it a lot. It reminds of the […]

## “Do you come from Liverpool?”

Paul Alper writes: Because I used to live in Trondheim, I have a special interest in this NYT article about exercise results in Trondheim, Norway: Obviously, even without reading the article in any detail, the headline claim that The Secret to Longevity? 4-Minute Bursts of Intense Exercise May Help can be misleading and is subject […]

## The insider-outsider perspective (Jim Bouton example)

One theme that’s come up often here over the years is what the late Seth Roberts called the insider-outsider perspective of “people who have the knowledge of insiders but the freedom of outsiders,” and here’s one of many examples. I thought about this again after reading this interview by Steven Goldleaf on Bill James Online […]

## About that A/C repairman story . . .

Paul Alper points us to this horrifying story of our modern world: A former Houston police captain, who the authorities said was investigating a voter fraud conspiracy theory for a conservative activist group, was arrested and charged with pointing his gun at an air-conditioner repairman he had pursued to try to uncover fraudulent ballots, prosecutors […]

## “Prediction Markets in a Polarized Society”

Rajiv Sethi writes about some weird things in election prediction markets, such as Donald Trump being given a one-in-eight chance of being the election winner . . . weeks after he’d lost the election. Sethi writes: There’s a position size limit of \$850 dollars per contract in this market, which also happens to have hit […]

## Forking paths and gerrymandering

Richard Barnes writes: In this article (preprint here) we explore a similar concept to forking paths applied to quantifying electoral gerrymandering. (Some) efforts to quantify electoral gerrymandering aim to come up with a mathematical measure of how “oddly” a district is shaped. In the paper, we show that in translating from real-world geography to math-world […]

## Life is long.

Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews a biography by Izabela Wagner of Zygmunt Bauman, a sociologist I’ve never heard of. But he had an eventful life: Zygmunt Bauman was born in 1925 in Poznań, the centre of a province that had been under Prussian/German rule for more than a century before becoming part of the new Polish state […]

## “Losing one night’s sleep may increase risk factor for Alzheimer’s, study says”

CNN’s on it: A preliminary study found the loss of one night’s sleep in healthy young men increased the levels of tau protein in their blood compared to getting a complete night of uninterrupted sleep. Studies have shown that higher levels of tau protein in the blood is associated with an increased risk of developing […]

## Reading, practicing, talking, and questioning

Roger Henke writes: I have somewhat of a background in broad strokes policy research. My knowledge of research methodology and stats is very limited and in hindsight I am quite flabbergasted by some of what I’ve claimed in the past based on questionable to say the least data and approaches and equally so by the […]