Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science

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The “scientist as hero” narrative

We’ve talked about the problems with the scientist-as-hero paradigm; see “Narrative #1” discussed here. And, more recently, we’ve considered how this narrative has been clouding people’s thinking regarding the coronavirus; see here and here. That latter example is particularly bad because it involved a reporter with an undisclosed conflict of interest....

Regression and Other Stories is available!

This will be, without a doubt, the most fun you’ll have ever had reading a statistics book. Also I think you’ll learn a few things reading it. I know that we learned a lot writing it. Regression and Other Stories started out as the first half of Data Analysis Using Regression and Multilevel/Hierarchical Models, but then we added a lot more and we...

Ugly code is buggy code

People have been (correctly) mocking my 1990s-style code. They’re right to mock! My coding style works for me, kinda, but it does have problems. Here’s an example from a little project I’m working on right now. I was motivated to write this partly as a followup to Bob’s post yesterday about coding practices. I fit two models to some coronavirus...

Drunk-under-the-lamppost testing

Edit: Glancing over this again, it struck me that the title may be interpreted as being mean. Sorry about that. It wasn’t my intent. I was trying to be constructive and I really like that analogy. The original post is mostly reasonable other than on this one point that I thought was important to call out. I’m writing a response here to Abraham...

“Time Travel in the Brain”

Natalie Biderman and Daphna Shohamy wrote this science article for kids. Here’s the abstract: Do you believe in time travel? Every time we remember something from the past or imagine something that will happen in the future, we engage in mental time travel. Scientists discovered that, whether we mentally travel back into the past or forward into the...

Statistical controversy on estimating racial bias in the criminal justice system

1. Background A bunch of people have asked me to comment on these two research articles: Administrative Records Mask Racially Biased Policing, by Dean Knox, Will Lowe, and Jonathan Mummolo: Researchers often lack the necessary data to credibly estimate racial discrimination in policing. In particular, police administrative records lack information...

New England Journal of Medicine engages in typical academic corporate ass-covering behavior

James Watson (not the racist dude who, in 1998, said that a cancer cure was coming in 2 years) writes: About a month ago, when the infamous Lancet hydroxychloroquine/chloroquine paper was still “real science” (i.e. in the official scientific record), we decided to put extra pressure on the authors by writing an open letter to the New England Journal...

Priors on effect size in A/B testing

I just saw this interesting applied-focused post by Kaiser Fung on non-significance in A/B testing. Kaiser was responding to a post by Ron Kohavi. I can’t find Kohavi’s note anywhere, but you can read Kaiser’s post to get the picture. Here I want to pick out a few sentences from Kaiser’s post: Kohavi correctly points out that for a variety of reasons,...

Who were the business superstars of the 1970s?

Last month, we said: Who are today’s heroes? Not writers or even musicians? No, our pantheon of culture heroes are: rich men, athletes, some movie and TV stars, a few politicians, some offbeat intellectuals like Nate Silver and Nassim Taleb . . . I guess I should also add social media stars like whoever is getting a million youtube subscribers or...

Inference for coronavirus prevalence by inverting hypothesis tests

Panos Toulis writes: The debate on the Santa Clara study actually me to think about the problem from a finite sample inference perspective. In this case, we can fully write down the density f(S | θ) in known analytic form, where S = (vector of) test positives, θ = parameters (i.e., sensitivity, specificity and prevalence). Given observed values s_obs...

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