Weapons of math destruction

The rules of science are changing, to the exhilaration of some and apprehension of others. The problem is by now well defined: when we run an analysis on an unstable effect using a small sample, we can get a variety of different statistical outcomes. If only some of those outcomes are acceptable by journal standards, the literature will produce a skewed … [Read more…]

Scatterplotting time series

These thoughts about plotting were largely inspired by Guillaume Rousselet’s blog. Let’s start with this combined scatter ERP/ERF plot: These are real data from an early paper of mine, picked for convenience. The blue and red lines are the signal recorded by a set of temporal MEG sensors, to a tone click played twice (under two different conditions, called Blue … [Read more…]

A crisis of (p) values

I remember a sense of defeat when I started learning about research methodology. I enrolled in psychology brimming with questions, but instead of getting answers, there was this statistics course that seemed to be just caveat after caveat after caveat about what we’re allowed to conclude from data. You should have a representative sample, but … [Read more…]

The search for intelligence in the brain

Being intelligent is about being good at many things. Intelligence researchers assign a single number to a diverse constellation of aptitudes, and this single number is the best across-the-board predictor of performance that differential psychology has ever yielded. Intuitively, there should be an ability behind this constellation: the more of this ability people have, the … [Read more…]

Best research practices: A New Year’s resolution

Kia Nobre’s Brain and Cognition Lab recently discussed best research practices. Ana’s list of suggestions was accepted as a starting point, and the discussion continued from there. Overall, the atmosphere was of easy acceptance of new research practices that will hopefully enhance the reliability of our findings and conclusions. We noted that the general lack of theoretical coherence in the … [Read more…]

Why do we perform median splits?

When my son was born, friends and family embarked on a furious attempt to answer the most important question of all: who does he look like? The kid has his own combination of features, but people would be strongly convinced he looks just like one of us. And on average, these estimations were random! Like any new … [Read more…]

Replication crisis summary

Neuroscientific research suffers from small subject samples, lack of theory and lack of consensus on data analysis protocols. This leads to experiments with p-values that contain large errors of measurement, where publication is selectively limited to those that (sometimes randomly) fall below 0.05. Such a situation leads to any one study result being unreliable, which … [Read more…]