Category Archives: Chapter 16
Mathematics or “Citizen Statistics”?
Does learning mathematics help to master the statistics necessary to understand the social world we live in? Political scientist Andrew Hacker thinks this is a “math myth” that has led to requirements at the high school level that turns off … Continue reading
Political Polling: Still Viable?
Polling has captured the news as never before during the current presidential primary season. But at the same time that polls are more popular than ever before, their reliability is lower than ever. As you know from Chapter 8 on … Continue reading
Perception and Measurement about Mental Illness
Does it surprise you to learn that a large longitudinal survey of parents has led to the conclusion that the rate of severe mental illness among children and adolescents has dropped considerably in the last generation? The study involved ratings … Continue reading
Paying for the privilege of participating in a medical experiment?
Medical research may identify a potentially valuable treatment that must be tested in a rigorous experiment. Usually such experiments are funded by federal agencies like the National Institutes of Health, after a careful review, or by the company that has … Continue reading
Googling as Social Data
The horrific tragedy of the April 2013 marathon bombing in Boston sent many people to the web. In the four days after the bombing, total searches for news rose 50 to 160%, but total searches for religion dropped slightly. Overall, … Continue reading
A Mad Rush to Publish
There’s nothing worse for the progress of science than finding that published results were based on outright fraud or overhyped findings. The editors of a site termed Retraction Watch estimate that an average retraction rate of one scientific paper per … Continue reading
Reproducibility? Not So Much.
When social scientists use exemplary methods and report their findings accurately, we like to think that they have found out something about the social world. Furthermore, it then seems that if another social scientist conducted the same study again, with … Continue reading
Place matters for poverty
Children who move out of high poverty neighborhoods to low poverty neighborhoods with more resources do better on multiple outcomes, and the younger they are when their families move the better. These conclusions come from a study of the long-term outcomes … Continue reading
Do social scientists do better than pollsters?
One of the concerns that emerged from the recent scandal about apparently fictitious data in a published poll about support for same-sex marriage was whether public pollsters are less transparent in their methods than social scientists. Polling organizations are often … Continue reading