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When can we challenge authority with authority?

Michael Nelson writes: I want to thank you for posting your last decade of publications in a single space and organized by topic. But I also wanted to share a critique of your argument style as exemplified in your Annals of Surgery correspondence [here and here]. While I think it’s important and valuable that you […]

Epistemic and aleatoric uncertainty

There was some discussion in comments recently about the distinction between aleatoric uncertainty (physical probabilities such as coin flips) and epistemic uncertainty (representing ignorance rather than an active probability model). We’ve talked about this before, but not everyone was reading this blog 15 years ago, so I’ll cover it again here. For a very similar […]

Confidence intervals, compatability intervals, uncertainty intervals

“Communicating uncertainty is not just about recognizing its existence; it is also about placing that uncertainty within a larger web of conditional probability statements. . . . No model can include all such factors, thus all forecasts are conditional.” — us (2020). A couple years ago Sander Greenland and I published a discussion about renaming […]

What happened with HMOs?

Back in the 1970s, I remember occasionally reading a newspaper or magazine article about this mysterious thing called an HMO—a “health maintenance organization.” The idea was that the medical system as we knew it (you go to the doctor when you’re sick and pay some money, or you go to the hospital if you’re in […]

Richard Hamming’s “The Art of Doing Science and Engineering”

I bought this charming book and started flipping through and reading bits here and there. It has a real mid-twentieth-century feel, reminiscent of Richard Feynman, Martin Gardner, and Hugo Steinhaus. It gives me some nostalgia, thinking about a time when it was expected that students could do all sorts of math—it kinda made me wish […]

The 2019 project: How false beliefs in statistical differences still live in social science and journalism today

It’s the usual story. PNAS, New York Times, researcher degrees of freedom, story time. Weakliem reports: [The NYT article] said that a 2016 survey found that “when asked to imagine how much pain white or black patients experienced in hypothetical situations, the medical students and residents insisted that black people felt less pain.” I [Weakliem] […]

“Published estimates of group differences in multisensory integration are inflated”

Mike Beauchamp sends in the above picture of Buster (“so-named by my son because we adopted him as a stray kitten run over by a car and ‘all busted up’”) sends along this article (coauthored with John F. Magnotti) “examining how the usual suspects (small n, forking paths, etc.) had led our little sub-field of […]

More background on our research on constructing an informative prior from a corpus of comparable studies

Erik van Zwet writes: The post (“The Shrinkage Trilogy: How to be Bayesian when analyzing simple experiments”) didn’t get as many comments as I’d hoped, so I wrote an short explainer and a reading guide to help people understand what we’re up to. All three papers have the same very simple model. We abstract a […]

“The 100 Worst Ed-Tech Debacles of the Decade”

This is a list from Audrey Watters (link from Palko). 100! Wow—that’s a long list. But it is for a whole decade. I doubt this’ll make it on to Bill Gates’s must-reads of the year, but I liked it. Just to give you a sense, I’ll share the first and last items on Watters’s list: […]

Many years ago, when he was a baby economist . . .

Jonathan Falk writes: Many years ago, when I was a baby economist, a fight broke out in my firm between two economists. There was a question as to whether a particular change in the telecommunications laws had spurred productivity improvements or not. There a trend of x% per year in productivity improvements that had gone […]

Instead of comparing two posterior distributions, just fit one model including both possible explanations of the data.

Gabriel Weindel writes: I am a PhD student in psychology and I have a question about Bayesian statistics. I want to compare two posterior distributions of parameters estimated from a (hierarchical) cognitive model fitted on two dependent variables (hence both fits are completely separated). One fit is from a DV allegedly containing psychological process X […]

Question on multilevel modeling reminds me that we need a good modeling workflow (building up your model by including varying intercepts, slopes, etc.) and a good computing workflow

Someone who wishes to remain anonymous writes: Lacking proper experience with multilevel modeling, I have a question regarding a nation-wide project on hospital mortality that I’ve recently come into contact with. The primary aim of the project is to benchmark hospital performances in terms of mortality (binary outcome) while controlling for “case mix”, that is, […]

“Accounting Theory as a Bayesian Discipline”

David Johnstone writes: The Bayesian logic of probability, evidence and decision is the presumed rule of reasoning in analytical models of accounting disclosure. Any rational explication of the decades-old accounting notions of “information content”, “value relevance”, “decision useful”, and possibly conservatism, is inevitably Bayesian. By raising some of the probability principles, paradoxes and surprises in […]

Estimating the college wealth premium: Not so easy

Dale Lehman writes: Emmons_Kent_Ricketts_College_Still_Worth_ItHere’s the article referenced on Marginal Revolution today. I thought it might be of interest and worth blogging about. It is quite thorough and fairly complex. The results are quite striking – and important. My big concern relates to a critical variable – financial literacy. On page 14 they claim that it […]

Code. Never. Lies.

We had this fun exchange on email that I wanted to share with you. Bbales wrote: A docs question came up earlier this week on the forums, Bgoodrich’s response was “The code is pretty short but the documentation manages to not correspond to it.” which I [Bbales] thought was pretty funny. To which Bob replied: […]

Color schemes in data graphics

Natesh Pillai points us to this recent article, “The misuse of colour in science communication,” which begins: The accurate representation of data is essential in science communication. However, colour maps that visually distort data through uneven colour gradients or are unreadable to those with colour-vision deficiency remain prevalent in science. These include, but are not […]

“When Should Clinicians Act on Non–Statistically Significant Results From Clinical Trials?”

Javier Benítez pointed me to this JAMA article by Paul Young, Christopher Nickson, and Anders Perner, “When Should Clinicians Act on Non–Statistically Significant Results From Clinical Trials?”, which begins: Understanding whether the results of a randomized clinical trial (RCT) are clinically actionable is challenging. Reporting standards adopted by JAMA and other leading journals lead to […]

How to figure out what went wrong with this model?

Tony Hu writes: Could you please help look at an example of my model fitting? I used a very flexible model—Bayesian multivariate adaptive regression spline. The result is as follows: I fitted the corn yield data with multiple predictors for counties of the US (the figure shows results of Belmont County in Ohio). My advisor […]

Here’s why I don’t trust the Nudgelords . . .

They don’t admit their mistakes. In particular, they don’t admit when they’ve been conned. 1. Freakonomics from 2009: A Headline That Will Make Global-Warming Activists Apoplectic The BBC is responsible. The article, by the climate correspondent Paul Hudson, is called “What Happened to Global Warming?” Highlights: For the last 11 years we have not observed […]

“Not statistically significant” is not the same as zero

Under the subject line, “Null misinterpretation of CIs reaches new level of lethality,” Sander Greenland points us to this article with the following in the Results section: Compared to no masks there was no reduction of influenza-like illness (ILI) cases (Risk Ratio 0.93, 95%CI 0.83 to 1.05) or influenza (Risk Ratio 0.84, 95%CI 0.61-1.17) for […]