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New study casts doubt on study that casted doubt

In 2015, a widely publicized report by the Center for Open Science claimed that dozens of psychology studies from a sample of 100 were unsound. A new report has challenged these findings, claiming that nearly all of the studies examined by COS were acceptable and that the COS study itself was statistically flawed. According to the New York Times, “One issue the critique raised was how faithfully the replication team…

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Correlating death and research spending (sort of)

Spurious Correlations is the virtual embodiment of a useful rhetorical cudgel: correlation does not equal causation. Sift through its data sets, and you’ll find all sorts of statistics that can be mapped onto each other — margarine consumption and the divorce rate, crude oil imports and number of train collision deaths, bee colony growth and the marriage rate. If you ever need to demonstrate that two things can appear connected…

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Bad stats sabotaging drug discovery?

One of the most widely read college textbooks in the 1960s and ‘70s was How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff. Despite the humorous title, the serious intent of the book (written by a journalist, not a statistician) was to illustrate how common errors in the use of statistics frequently lead to misleading conclusions. Though popular, it may not have done the job it was intended to do. Almost…

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The Economist broadsides science

The October 19th issue of The Economist carried two withering broadsides of science research. The authors cited problems with peer review, statistical analysis, and replicability in science: How science goes wrong Trouble at the lab The problem? Apart from the obvious bias of these articles and the hundreds of comments from incensed readers who agreed wholeheartedly with these perspectives, the issues being flogged in these articles are not news. Science…

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