“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

Planet of the hominids? We wanna see this exposition.

Planet of the hominids? We wanna see this exposition. Posted by Andrew on 5 November 2017, 9:40 pm It would be interesting if someone were to make an exhibit for a museum showing the timeline of humans and hominids, and under that showing children’s toys and literature, showing how these guys were represented in popular media. It probably already exists, right? P.S. I feel kinda bad that this bumped Dan’s more important, statistically-related post. So go back and read Dan’s post again, hear?
Original Post: Planet of the hominids? We wanna see this exposition.

The Night Riders

Retraction Watch linked to this paper, “Publication bias and the canonization of false facts,” by Silas Nissen, Tali Magidson, Kevin Gross, and Carl Bergstrom, and which is in the Physics and Society section of Arxiv which is kind of odd since it has nothing whatsoever to do with physics. Nissen et al. write: In the process of scientific inquiry, certain claims accumulate enough support to be established as facts. Unfortunately, not every claim accorded the status of fact turns out to be true. In this paper, we model the dynamic process by which claims are canonized as fact through repeated experimental confirmation. . . . In our model, publication bias—in which positive results are published preferentially over negative ones—influences the distribution of published results. I don’t really have any comments on the paper itself—I’m never sure when these mathematical models…
Original Post: The Night Riders

Post-publication review succeeds again! (Two-lines edition.)

Post-publication review succeeds again! (Two-lines edition.) Posted by Andrew on 3 November 2017, 10:18 pm A couple months ago, Uri Simonsohn posted online a suggested statistical method for detecting nonmonotonicity in data. He called it: “Two-lines: The First Valid Test of U-Shaped Relationships.” With a title like that, I guess you’re asking for it. And, indeed, awhile later I received an email from Yair Heller identifying some problems with Uri’s method. After checking with Yair, I forwarded his message to Simonsohn who found the problem and fixed it. Uri’s update is here. Now, I don’t actually agree with Uri or Yair on this one: I don’t really buy the hypothesis-testing, type-1-error framework that they’re using. But that’s ok: it’s not my job to vet their methods. If these ideas are useful to others, great. My real point here is that post-publication…
Original Post: Post-publication review succeeds again! (Two-lines edition.)

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

Giving feedback indirectly by invoking a hypothetical reviewer

Giving feedback indirectly by invoking a hypothetical reviewer Posted by Andrew on 2 August 2017, 9:44 am Ethan Bolker points us to this discussion on “How can I avoid being “the negative one” when giving feedback on statistics?”, which begins: Results get sent around a group of biological collaborators for feedback. Comments come back from the senior members of the group about the implications of the results, possible extensions, etc. I look at the results and I tend not to be as good at the “big picture” stuff (I’m a relatively junior member of the team), but I’m reasonably good with statistics (and that’s my main role), so I look at the details. Sometimes I think to myself “I don’t think those conclusions are remotely justified by the data”. How can I give honest feedback in a way that doesn’t come…
Original Post: Giving feedback indirectly by invoking a hypothetical reviewer

“Explaining recent mortality trends among younger and middle-aged White Americans”

“Explaining recent mortality trends among younger and middle-aged White Americans” Posted by Andrew on 1 August 2017, 9:30 pm Kevin Lewis sends along this paper by Ryan Masters, Andrea Tilstra, and Daniel Simon, who write: Recent research has suggested that increases in mortality among middle-aged US Whites are being driven by suicides and poisonings from alcohol and drug use. Increases in these ‘despair’ deaths have been argued to reflect a cohort-based epidemic of pain and distress among middle-aged US Whites. We examine trends in all-cause and cause-specific mortality rates among younger and middle-aged US White men and women between 1980 and 2014, using official US mortality data. . . . Trends in middle-aged US White mortality vary considerably by cause and gender. The relative contribution to overall mortality rates from drug-related deaths has increased dramatically since the early 1990s, but the…
Original Post: “Explaining recent mortality trends among younger and middle-aged White Americans”

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