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Better the devil you know

(University of Southern Denmark) Many birds choose partners for life -- it offers many advantages and often improves a couple's breeding output. New research reveals that for the common tern lifelong monogamy does not always lead to breeding success. Nevertheless, they don't split up.

Nooooooo, just make it stop, please!

Dan Kahan wrote: You should do a blog on this. I replied: I don’t like this article but I don’t really see the point in blogging on it. Why bother? Kahan: BECAUSE YOU REALLY NEVER HAVE EXPLAINED WHY. Gelman-Rubin criticque of BIC isShow More Summary

Increasing rainfall in a warmer world will likely intensify typhoons in western Pacific

(DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) An analysis of the strongest tropical storms over the last half-century reveals that higher global temperatures have intensified the storms via enhanced rainfall. Rain that falls on the ocean reduces salinity and allows typhoons to grow stronger.

When you add a predictor the model changes so it makes sense that the coefficients change too.

Shane Littrell writes: I’ve recently graduated with my Masters in Science in Research Psych but I’m currently trying to get better at my stats knowledge (in psychology, we tend to learn a dumbed down, “Stats for Dummies” version of things). Show More Summary

3-D Fractals Offer Clues to Complex Systems

By folding fractals into 3-D objects, a mathematical duo hopes to gain new insight into simple equations.

Field Experiments and Their Critics

Seven years ago I was contacted by Dawn Teele, who was then a graduate student and is now a professor of political science, and asked for my comments on an edited book she was preparing on social science experiments and their critics. Show More Summary

About that claim that North Korea had “moderate” electoral integrity . . .

Yesterday I wrote about problems with the Electoral Integrity Project, a set of expert surveys that are intended to “evaluate the state of the world’s elections” but have some problems, notably rating more than half of the U.S. states in 2016 as having lower integrity than Cuba (!) and North Korea (!!!) in 2014. Show More Summary

Fragility index is too fragile

Simon Gates writes: Where is an issue that has had a lot of publicity and Twittering in the clinical trials world recently. Many people are promoting the use of the “fragility index” (paper attached) to help interpretation of “significant” results from clinical trials. Show More Summary

“Constructing expert indices measuring electoral integrity” — reply from Pippa Norris

This morning I posted a criticism of the Electoral Integrity Project, a survey organized by Pippa Norris and others to assess elections around the world. Norris sent me a long response which I am posting below as is. I also invited Andrew Reynolds, the author of the controversial op-ed, to contribute to the discussion. Show More Summary

About that bogus claim that North Carolina is no longer a democracy . . .

Nick Stevenson directed me to a recent op-ed in the Raleigh News & Observer, where political science professor Andrew Reynolds wrote: In 2005, in the midst of a career of traveling around the world to help set up elections in some of the most challenging places on earth... Show More Summary

Migration explaining observed changes in mortality rate in different geographic areas?

We know that the much-discussed increase in mortality among middle-aged U.S. whites is mostly happening among women in the south. In response to some of that discussion, Tim Worstall wrote: I [Worstall] have a speculative answer. It is absolutely speculative: but it is also checkable to some extent. Show More Summary

Stan 2.14 released for R and Python; fixes bug with sampler

Stan 2.14 is out and it fixes the sampler bug in Stan versions 2.10 through 2.13. Critical update It’s critical to update to Stan 2.14. See: RStan 2.14.1 PyStan CmdStan 2.14.0 The other interfaces will update when you udpate CmdStan. Show More Summary

Basic Category Theory Free Online

My introductory textbook Basic Category Theory is now available free online.

Comment of the year

In our discussion of research on the possible health benefits of a low-oxygen environment, Raghu wrote: This whole idea (low oxygen -> lower cancer risk) seems like a very straightforward thing to test in animals, which one can move to high and low oxygen environments... Show More Summary

The Best Prime Numbers of 2016

Because prime numbers didn't let us down this year. -- Read more on

Transformative treatments

Kieran Healy and Laurie Paul wrote a new article, “Transformative Treatments,” (see also here) which reminds me a bit of my article with Guido, “Why ask why? Forward causal inference and reverse causal questions.” Healy and Paul’s article...Show More Summary

NSA Axes Math Grants

NSA suspends its Mathematical Sciences Program. Fewer moral dilemmas for mathematicians.

“Kevin Lewis and Paul Alper send me so much material, I think they need their own blogs.”

In my previous post, I wrote: Kevin Lewis and Paul Alper send me so much material, I think they need their own blogs. It turns out that Lewis does have his own blog. His latest entry contains a bunch of links, starting with this one:...Show More Summary

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