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Archive of posts filed under the Zombies category.

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 […]

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] […]

“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: […]

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 […]

The problem with p-hacking is not the “hacking,” it’s the “p”

Clifford Anderson-Bergman writes: On CrossValidated, a discussion came up I thought you may be interested in. The quick summary of it is that a poster posed the question that isn’t Fisher’s advice to go get more data when results are statistical insignificant essentially endorsing p-hacking. After a bit of a discussion that spanned an answer […]

The garden of forking paths: Why multiple comparisons can be a problem, even when there is no “fishing expedition” or “p-hacking” and the research hypothesis was posited ahead of time

Kevin Lewis points us to this article by Joachim Vosgerau, Uri Simonsohn, Leif Nelson, and Joseph Simmons, which begins: Several researchers have relied on, or advocated for, internal meta-analysis, which involves statistically aggregating multiple studies in a paper . . . Here we show that the validity of internal meta-analysis rests on the assumption that […]

Ahhhh, Cornell!

What’s up with that place? From his webpage: Sternberg’s main research interests are in intelligence, creativity, wisdom, thinking styles, teaching and learning, love, jealousy, envy, and hate. That pretty much covers it.

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 […]

Pundits continue to push the white-men-are-dying story, even though the real pattern is occurring among women.

From the New York Times book review: Over the last century, Americans’ life expectancy at birth has risen from 49 to 77. Yet in recent years, that rise has faltered. Among white people age 45-54 — or a time many view as the prime of life — deaths have risen. Especially vulnerable are white men […]

Stanford prison experiment

Mark Palko points us to a review by Alison Abbott of a book by Susannah Cahalan telling a disturbing story of a psychology professor at a prestigious university who had stunning academic and popular success based on research that he seems to have incorrectly and misleadingly reported. Disturbing—but not surprising, given we now have a […]

What is the relevance of “bad science” to our understanding of “good science”?

We spend some time talking about junk science, or possible junk science, most recently that book about sleep, but we have lots of other examples such as himmicanes, air rage, ages ending in 9, pizzagate, weggy, the disgraced primatologist, regression discontinuity disasters, beauty and sex ratio, the critical positivity ratio, slaves and serfs, gremlins, and […]

This one pushes all my buttons

August Wartin writes: Just wanted to make you aware of this ongoing discussion about an article in JPE: It’s the same professor Lidbom that was involved in this discussion a few years ago (I believe you mentioned something about it on your blog). Indeed, we blogged it here. Here’s the abstract of Lidbom’s more recent […]

Own your design choices: We should express findings in paper titles by referring to what was measured rather than the general construct that was measured.

Someone writes: There’s a blog post where you said we should express findings in paper titles by referring to what was measured rather than the general construct that was measured. I spent more than one hour last time trying to find this post but with no success. Can you help me? I need to send […]

My thoughts on “What’s Wrong with Social Science and How to Fix It: Reflections After Reading 2578 Papers”

Chetan Chawla and Asher Meir point us to this post by Alvaro de Menard, who writes: Over the past year, I [Menard] have skimmed through 2578 social science papers, spending about 2.5 minutes on each one. What a great beginning! I can relate to this . . . indeed, it roughly describes my experience as […]

“Reversals in psychology”

Gavin Leech writes: After reading your blog for about 6 years straight, I found I’d passively acquired a long list of psychology results to watch out for. But no one seems to have collated them, so I have, here. My friends, hypercritical nerds all, were on average surprised by 4 of these, so – despite […]

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. […]

“The Critic as Artist,” by Oscar Wilde

A commenter pointed us to The Critic as Artist, by Oscar Wilde. I’d never heard of this story before, so I clicked on the link and read it, and it was excellent. Some bits: Ernest: But, seriously speaking, what is the use of art-criticism? Why cannot the artist be left alone, to create a new […]

Will the pandemic cause a decline in births? We’ll be able to resolve this particular debate in about 9 months . . .

The fallacy of the one-sided bet I’m gonna be talking about a news article and research paper asking the question, “Will coronavirus cause a baby boom, or is that just a myth?” And my problem is the fallacy of the one-sided bet: By asking the question, is there a positive effect or is it zero, […]