Tag Archives: Human side of statistics

Recommended: How to be more effective in your professional life

This article starts with a nice anecdote about being dismissive about what someone else is saying ends up hurting you. It also provides a nice structure, POWER, for organizing consulting meetings. POWER stands for Prepare, Open, Work, End, and Reflect. This article was a basis for some of the content in an interesting webinar on consulting. Continue reading

PMean: What are we doing to justify all that time we’re budgeting?

An email discussion about the appropriate percentage effort on research grants has produced a lot of interesting discussions. One person raised an interesting question. The typical data analysis, he claimed, might involve a few hours reviewing the input data set, a few hours conducting the analysis and a few hours preparing a statistical summary, but even after a generous estimate of the work at each of the time points, he could only come up with 22 hours of effort, which corresponds roughly with a 1% FTE. I wrote back describing some of the things that might occur before the data analysis that might add time to this effort. Continue reading

Recommended: How to be more effective in your professional life

Doug Zahn has done a tremendous amount of work on what I like to call the human factors in statistical consulting. He summarizes some key ideas in this article. His humorous anecdote about his prized Mustang car illustrates the tendency of all of us to be poor listeners. Pay special atention to Table 1 where he outlines the five steps you should always follow in any consulting interaction. Continue reading

Recommended: When the revolution came for Amy Cuddy

This is one of the best articles I have ever read in the popular press about the complexities of the research process.

This article by Susan Dominus covers some high profile research by Amy Cuddy. She and two co-authors found that your body language not only influences how others view you, but it influences how you view yourself. Striking a “power pose” meaning something like a “legs astride or feet up on a desk” can improve your sense of power and control and these subjective feelings are matched by physiological changes, Your testosterone goes up and your cortisol goes down. Both of these, apparently, are good things.

The research team publishes these findings in Psychological Science, a prominent journal in this field. The article receives a lot of press coverage. Dr. Cuddy becomes the public face of this research, most notably by garnering an invitation to give a TED talk and does a bang-up job. Her talk becomes the second most viewed TED talk of all time.

But there’s a problem. The results of the Psychological Science publication do not get replicated. One of the other two authors expresses doubt about the original research findings. Another research team reviews the data analysis and labels the work “p-hacking”.

It turns out that there is a movement in the research world to critically examine existing research findings and to see if the data truly supports the conclusions that have been made. Are the people leading this movement noble warriors for truth or are they shameless bullies who tear down peer-reviewed research in non-peer-reviewed blogs.

I vote for “noble warriors” but read the article and decide for yourself what you think. It’s a complicated area and every perspective has more than one side to it.

One of the noble warriors/shameless bullies is Andrew Gelman, a popular statistician and social scientist. He comments extensively about the New York Times article on his blog, which is also worth reading as well as many comments that others have made on his blog post. It’s also worth digging up some of his earlier commentary about Dr. Cuddy. Continue reading