• Brief but important interview with Andrew Gelman.

    Here’s one thing regarding “great applied work”: Ask yourself the question: What makes a statistician look like a hero? You might think that the answer would be, Extracting a small faint signal from noise. But I don’t think so. I think that a statistician looks like a hero by studying large effects.

  • A history of the firebomb:

    The effects testing, done very carefully by both universities (Harvard again, along with the University of Chicago), corporations (Standard Oil, Texas Company), and the military (Ordnance Department) are also pretty grim. These involved mock bedrooms, with beds and boudoirs and even vanity mirrors, to simulate how effect these weapons would be against “Central German structures,” “experimental Japanese rooms,” and other models of homes. Just in case there was any lingering doubt as to what these weapons were meant to accomplish, and to put to rest the lingering misconception that the destruction of civilian life was an inadvertent consequence imprecise weaponry.

  • When replication isn’t:

    We were easily able to replicate Rauchhaus’ key findings in Stata, but couldn’t get it to work in R. It took us a long while to work out why, but the reason turned out to be an error in Stata: Stata was finding a solution when it shouldn’t have (because of separation in the data). This solution, as we show in the paper, was wrong – and led Rauchhaus’ paper to overestimate the effect of nuclear weapons on conflict by a factor of several million.

    Via the excellent Political Science Replication Blog.

Also, I think it’s about time to start mocking the undergrads.

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