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Archive of posts filed under the Sociology category.

Still cited only 3 times

I had occasion to refer to this post from a couple years ago on the anthropic principle in statistics. In that post, I wrote: I actually used the anthropic principle in my 2000 article, Should we take measurements at an intermediate design point? (a paper that I love; but I just looked it up and […]

“Why Some Important Findings Remain Uncited”

Gaurav Sood points us to these two posts: Unsighted: Why Some Important Findings Remain Uncited Gaming Measurement: Using Economic Games to Measure Discrimination “Important findings remain uncited” is kind of the flip side of “A study fails to replicate, but it continues to get referenced as if it had no problems.”

Thoughts inspired by “the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife”

After reading the review of Ariel Sabar’s “Veritas: A Harvard Professor, a Con Man and the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife,” I decided to follow Paul Alper’s advice and read the book, which was conveniently available at the local library. At first I thought the book would be boring, not because of the topic but because […]

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 […]

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 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 […]

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 […]

“Off white: A preliminary taxonomy”

Lots has been written on this topic (“How the Irish Became White,” etc.), but this post by Paul Campos is an amusing starting point. As he points out, we often think about race/ethnicity/nationality in the context of U.S. politics, but it’s an issue, one way or another, pretty much everywhere in the world.

Open data and quality: two orthogonal factors of a study

It’s good for a study to have open data, and it’s good for the study to be high quality. If for simplicity we dichotomize these variables, we can find lots of examples in all four quadrants: – Unavailable data, low quality: The notorious ESP paper from 2011 and tons of papers published during that era […]

“Analysis challenges slew of studies claiming ocean acidification alters fish behavior”

Lizzie Wolkovich writes: Here’s an interesting new paper in climate change ecology that states, “Using data simulations, we additionally show that the large effect sizes and small within-group variances that have been reported in several previous studies are highly improbable.” I [Lizzie] wish I were more surprised, but mostly I was impressed they did the […]

“Like a harbor clotted with sunken vessels”: update

A few years ago I reported on this story: In 2005, Michael Kosfeld, Markus Heinrichs, Paul Zak, Urs Fischbacher, and Ernst Fehr published a paper, “Oxytocin increases trust in humans.” According to Google, that paper has been cited 3389 times. In 2015, Gideon Nave, Colin Camerer, and Michael McCullough published a paper, “Does Oxytocin Increase […]

More on that credulity thing

I see five problems here that together form a feedback loop with bad consequences. Here are the problems: 1. Irrelevant or misunderstood statistical or econometric theory 2. Poorly-executed research 3. Other people in the field being loath to criticize, taking published or even preprinted claims as correct until proved otherwise 4. Journalists taking published or […]

“The presumption of wisdom and/or virtue causes intellectuals to personalize situations where contending ideas are involved.”

Mark Tuttle writes: A friend recommended the book Intellectuals and Society, by Thomas Sowell. The book is from 2010, but before this recommendation I hadn’t heard of it. Note the last paragraph, below, in the Wikipedia entry: Ego-involvement and personalization The presumption of wisdom and/or virtue causes intellectuals to personalize situations where contending ideas are […]

Yes, there is such a thing as Eurocentric science

Sometimes we hear stories about silly cultural studies types who can’t handle the objective timeless nature of science. Ha ha ha, we laugh—and, indeed, we should laugh if we don’t cry because some of this stuff really is ridiculous. But let us know forget that science really can be culture-bound. Not just silly psychology journals […]

Earliest Known Uses of Some of the Words of Mathematics

Aki points us to this fun 1990s-style webpage from Jeff Miller. Last year we featured his page on word oddities and other trivia. You might also enjoy his page, Earliest Uses of Various Mathematical Symbols. Here’s an example: The equal symbol (=) was first used by Robert Recorde (c. 1510-1558) in 1557 in The Whetstone […]

“Sponsored products related to this item”

I happened to look up the classic programming book Code Complete (fully, “Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction, Second Edition,” by Steve McConnell) and I learned two amusing things when scrolling down the page: 1. It says, “You last purchased this item on September 9, 2004.” Wow! I bought it, probably on Bob […]

“Smell the Data”

Mike Maltz writes the following on ethnography and statistics: I got interested in ethnographic studies because of a concern for people analyzing data without an understanding of its origins and the way it was collected. An ethnographer collects stories, and too many statisticians disparage them, calling them “anecdotes” instead of real data. But stories are […]

Who are the culture heroes of today?

When I was a kid, the culture heroes were Hollywood and TV actors, pop musicians, athletes and coaches, historical political and military figures, then I guess you could go down the list of fame and consider authors, artists, scientists and inventors . . . . that’s about it, I think. Nowadays, we still have actors, […]

How to incorporate new data into our understanding? Sturgis rally example.

A colleague writes: This is a very provocative claim about the Sturgis rally—can you do a stats “fact check”? I’m curious if this has been subjected to statistical scrutiny. I replied that I’m curious why he said this study is provocative: It makes sense that when people get together and connect nodes in the social […]

This awesome Pubpeer thread is about 80 times better than the original paper

This came up already, but in the meantime this paper in the Journal of Surgical Research has been just raked over the coals, over and over and over again, in this delightful Pubpeer thread. 31 comments so far, all of them just slamming the original published paper and many with interesting insights of their own. […]