“A mixed economy is not an economic abomination or even a regrettably unavoidable political necessity but a natural absorbing state,” and other notes on “Whither Science?” by Danko Antolovic

So. I got this email one day, promoting a book that came with the following blurb: Whither Science?, by Danko Antolovic, is a series of essays that explore some of the questions facing modern science. A short read at only 41 pages, Whither Science? looks into the fundamental questions about the purposes, practices and future of science. As a global endeavor, which influences all of contemporary life, science is still a human creation with historical origins and intellectual foundations. And like all things human, it has its faults, which must be accounted for. It sounded like this guy might be a crank, but they sent me a free copy so I took a look. I read the book, and I liked it. It’s written in an unusual style, kinda like what you might expect from someone with a physics/chemistry background…
Original Post: “A mixed economy is not an economic abomination or even a regrettably unavoidable political necessity but a natural absorbing state,” and other notes on “Whither Science?” by Danko Antolovic

Using D&D to reduce ethnic prejudice

Using D&D to reduce ethnic prejudice Posted by Andrew on 8 November 2017, 4:54 pm OK, not quite D&D—I just wrote that to get Bob’s attention. It is a role-playing game, though! Here’s the paper, “Seeing the World Through the Other’s Eye: An Online Intervention Reducing Ethnic Prejudice,” by Gabor Simonovits, Gabor Kezdi, and Peter Kardos: We report the results of an intervention that targeted anti-Roma sentiment in Hungary using an online perspective-taking game. We evaluated the impact of this intervention using a randomized experiment in which a sample of young adults played this perspective-taking game, or an unrelated online game. Participation in the perspective-taking game markedly reduced prejudice, with an effect-size equivalent to half the difference between voters of the far-right and the center-right party. The effects persisted for at least a month, and, as a byproduct, the intervention also…
Original Post: Using D&D to reduce ethnic prejudice

The time reversal heuristic (priming and voting edition)

Ed Yong writes: Over the past decade, social psychologists have dazzled us with studies showing that huge social problems can seemingly be rectified through simple tricks. A small grammatical tweak in a survey delivered to people the day before an election greatly increases voter turnout. A 15-minute writing exercise narrows the achievement gap between black and white students—and the benefits last for years. “Each statement may sound outlandish—more science fiction than science,” wrote Gregory Walton from Stanford University in 2014. But they reflect the science of what he calls “wise interventions” . . . They seem to work, if the stream of papers in high-profile scientific journals is to be believed. But as with many branches of psychology, wise interventions are taking a battering. A new wave of studies that attempted to replicate the promising experiments have found discouraging results.…
Original Post: The time reversal heuristic (priming and voting edition)

Pseudoscience and the left/right whiplash

I came across this post by blogger Echidne slamming psychology professor Roy Baumeister. I’d first heard about the Baumeister in the context of his seeming inability to handle scientific criticism. I hadn’t realized that Baumeister had a sideline in pseudoscientific anti-political-correctness. One aspect of all this that interests me is the way that Baumeister, and other scholars like him, seem to take some of the worst of the traditional left and right. From the 60’s-style left, you get a kind of mystical attitude that reality isn’t important, a mind-over-matter perspective exemplified by his view that “flair” and “intuition” are more important than boring number crunching. From the right (or, I guess we say now, the “alt-right”), there’s science-style justifications of traditional sex roles, racial inequality, and a general feeling that rich people deserve to keep what they have. Or, to…
Original Post: Pseudoscience and the left/right whiplash

More thoughts on that “What percent of Americans would you say are gay or lesbian?” survey

We had some discussion yesterday about this Gallup poll that asked respondents to guess the percentage of Americans who are gay. The average response was 23%—and this stunningly high number was not just driven by outliers: more than half the respondents estimated the proportion gay as 20% or more. All this is in stark contrast to direct estimates from surveys that 3 or 4% of Americans are gay. One thing that came up in comments is that survey respondents with minority sexual orientations might not want to admit it. So maybe that 3-4% is an underestimate. Here’s an informative news article by Samantha Allen which suggests that the traditionally-cited 10% number might not be so far off. But even if the real rate is 10% (including lots of closeted people), that’s still much less than the 23% from the survey.…
Original Post: More thoughts on that “What percent of Americans would you say are gay or lesbian?” survey

“Americans Greatly Overestimate Percent Gay, Lesbian in U.S.”

“Americans Greatly Overestimate Percent Gay, Lesbian in U.S.” Posted by Andrew on 1 November 2017, 9:48 am This sort of thing is not new but it’s still amusing. From a Gallup report by Frank Newport: The American public estimates on average that 23% of Americans are gay or lesbian, little changed from Americans’ 25% estimate in 2011, and only slightly higher than separate 2002 estimates of the gay and lesbian population. These estimates are many times higher than the 3.8% of the adult population who identified themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender in Gallup Daily tracking in the first four months of this year. Newport provides some context: Part of the explanation for the inaccurate estimates of the gay and lesbian population rests with Americans’ general unfamiliarity with numbers and demography. Previous research has shown that Americans estimate that a…
Original Post: “Americans Greatly Overestimate Percent Gay, Lesbian in U.S.”

Using Mister P to get population estimates from respondent driven sampling

From one of our exams: A researcher at Columbia University’s School of Social Work wanted to estimate the prevalence of drug abuse problems among American Indians (Native Americans) living in New York City. From the Census, it was estimated that about 30,000 Indians live in the city, and the researcher had a budget to interview 400. She did not have a list of Indians in the city, and she obtained her sample as follows. She started with a list of 300 members of a local American Indian community organization, and took a random sample of 100 from this list. She interviewed these 100 persons and asked each of these to give her the names of other Indians in the city whom they knew. She asked each respondent to characterize him/herself and also the people on the list on a 1-10…
Original Post: Using Mister P to get population estimates from respondent driven sampling

Whipsaw

Kevin Lewis points to a research article by Lawton Swan, John Chambers, Martin Heesacker, and Sondre Nero, “How should we measure Americans’ perceptions of socio-economic mobility,” which reports effects of question wording on surveys on an important topic in economics. They replicated two studies: Each (independent) research team had prompted similar groups of respondents to estimate the percentage of Americans born into the bottom of the income distribution who improved their socio-economic standing by adulthood, yet the two teams reached ostensibly irreconcilable conclusions: that Americans tend to underestimate (Chambers et al.) and overestimate (Davidai & Gilovich) the true rate of upward social mobility in the U.S. There are a few challenges here, and I think the biggest is that the questions being asked of survey respondents are so abstract. We’re talking about people who might not be able to name…
Original Post: Whipsaw

Letter to the Editor of Perspectives on Psychological Science

[relevant cat picture] tl;dr: Himmicane in a teacup. Back in the day, the New Yorker magazine did not have a Letters to the Editors column, and so the great Spy magazine (the Gawker of its time) ran its own feature, Letters to the Editor of the New Yorker, where they posted the letters you otherwise would never see. Here on this blog we can start a new feature, Letters to the Editor of Perspectives on Psychological Science, which will feature corrections that this journal refuses to print. Here’s our first entry: “In the article, ‘Going in Many Right Directions, All at Once,’ published in this journal, the author wrote, “some critics go beyond scientific argument and counterargument to imply that the entire field is inept and misguided (e.g., Gelman, 2014; Shimmack [sic], 2014).’ However, this article provided no evidence that…
Original Post: Letter to the Editor of Perspectives on Psychological Science

Delegate at Large

Delegate at Large Posted by Andrew on 29 July 2017, 9:42 am Asher Meir points to this delightful garden of forking paths, which begins: • Politicians on the right look more beautiful in Europe, the U.S. and Australia.• As beautiful people earn more, they are more likely to oppose redistribution.• Voters use beauty as a cue for conservatism in low-information elections.• Politicians on the right benefit more from beauty in low-information elections. I wrote: On the plus side, it did not appear in a political science journal! Economists and psychologists can be such suckers for the “voters are idiots” models of politics. Meir replied: Perhaps since I am no longer an academic these things don’t even raise my hackles anymore. I just enjoy the entertainment value. This stuff still raises my hackles, partly because I’m in the information biz so I…
Original Post: Delegate at Large