Archive for psychology

and it only gets worse…

Posted in Kids, pictures with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 23, 2018 by xi'an

“David Brooks, the New York Times columnist, recently summed up the “Trumpian world-view” writing, “Trump takes every relationship that has historically been based on affection, loyalty, trust and reciprocity and turned it into a relationship based on competition, self-interest, suspicion and efforts to establish dominance.” NYT, June 14

“Donald Trump has dismissed concerns about the widely condemned human rights record of the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, praising him as a “tough guy”, a “smart guy” and a “great negotiator”.” The Guardian, June 14

“Clinics that call themselves crisis pregnancy centers are not obliged to tell women when state aid may be available to obtain an abortion, according to a US supreme court ruling that represents a blow to pro-choice groups (…) All three of the court’s female members dissented.” The Guardian, June 27

“A resolution to encourage breast-feeding was expected to be approved quickly and easily by the (…) United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly. Based on decades of research, the resolution says that mother’s milk is healthiest for children and countries should strive to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes. Then the United States delegation, embracing the interests of infant formula manufacturers, upended the deliberations. The intensity of the administration’s opposition to the breast-feeding resolution stunned public health officials and foreign diplomats, who described it as a marked contrast to the Obama administration.” NYT, July 8

“President Trump on Tuesday pardoned a pair of Oregon cattle ranchers who had been serving out sentences for arson on federal land (…) The pardons undo an Obama administration appeal to impose longer sentences for the Hammonds and show that, at least in this case, the Trump administration is siding with ranchers in the battle over federal lands.” NYT, July 10

“President Trump stood next to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Monday and publicly challenged the conclusion of his own intelligence (…) “No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant,” Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, said in a statement. “Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.” ” NYT, July 16

“The Interior Department on Thursday proposed the most sweeping set of changes in decades to the Endangered Species Act, the law that brought the bald eagle and the Yellowstone grizzly bear back from the edge of extinction but which Republicans say is cumbersome and restricts economic development.” NYT, July 20

and it only gets worse…

Posted in Kids, pictures with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 3, 2018 by xi'an

“Donald Trump’s attacks on the press are “out of control” and damaging “the civic life and debate of the country”, the editor of the New York Times said on Sunday. Dean Baquet was responding to a tweet in which the president attacked his main rival. “The Washington Post is far more fiction than fact,” Trump wrote. `Story after story is made up garbage – more like a poorly written novel than good reporting. Always quoting sources (not names), many of which don’t exist.’ ” The Guardian, April 8

The Trump administration is expected to announce today a rule that would strip federal funding from clinics that provide abortions or refer patients to places that do. The rule, a return to a Reagan-era policy, is a victory for social conservatives. It’s also a jab at Planned Parenthood, which serves 41 percent of women who receive federally funded family planning services.2  NYT, May 18

“Donald Trump pulled the US out of the landmark nuclear deal with Tehran on Tuesday, moving to re-impose sanctions on Iran and defying pleas from close allies who had called for the agreement to be preserved. The decision marks a bitter defeat for America’s European allies, who have spent months beseeching Mr Trump to stay in a deal that he has denounced as “insane”. Critics warned it would further endanger stability in the Middle East. ” FT, May 8

“Donald Trump has slammed the gun laws of major US allies, claiming foreign countries could better protect their citizens – and possibly stop terrorist attacks – by loosening their gun control laws. In a speech to the NRA Leadership Forum, Mr Trump sought to reassure members of the US’s largest gun rights lobbying group of his support for the Second Amendment, after briefly expressing support for gun control measures in the wake of a school shooting in Florida.” The Independent, May 5


and it only gets worse…

Posted in Books, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2018 by xi'an

““Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said, after being presented with a proposal to restore protections for immigrants from those countries [African nations].” The Guardian, Jan 12, 2018

“The Trump administration is creating an office to protect the religious rights of medical providers, including those who may oppose abortion or transgender rights.” The Guardian, Jan 18, 2018

“Nuclear experts are warning, using some of their most urgent language since President Trump took office, that Hawaii’s false alarm, in which state agencies alerted locals to a nonexistent missile attack, underscores a growing risk of unintended nuclear war with North Korea.” NYT, Jan 15, 2018

““I don’t know if the president is clinically off his rocker. I do know, from what I saw and what I heard from people around him, that Donald Trump is deeply unpredictable, irrational, at times bordering on incoherent, self-obsessed in a disconcerting way, and displays all those kinds of traits that anyone would reasonably say, ‘What’s going on here, is something wrong?’” [Michael Wolff]” The Guardian, Jan 15, 2018

“Mr. Trump received a score of 30 out of 30 on the Montréal Cognitive Assessment, a well-known test regularly used at hospitals. It asks patients to repeat a list of spoken words, identify pictures of animals like a lion or a camel, draw a cube or draw a clock face set to a particular time.” NYT, Jan 17, 2018

““Through statistical analysis, video evidence, and personal experience, our team has uncovered a disturbing reality. In the majority of cases, US border patrol agents are responsible for the widespread interference with essential humanitarian efforts. The practice of destruction of and interference with aid is not the deviant behavior of a few rogue border patrol agents, it is a systemic feature of enforcement practices in the borderlands.” [No More Deaths]” The Guardian, Jan 18, 2018

““We’ll save a lot. We don’t care. But this isn’t like it used to be where they could vote against you and then you pay them hundreds of millions of dollars,” [Trump] said. “We’re not going to be taken advantage of any longer.”” The Guardian, Dec 21, 2017

long journey to reproducible results [or not]

Posted in Books, pictures, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 17, 2017 by xi'an

A rather fascinating article in Nature of last August [hidden under a pile of newspapers at home!]. By Gordon J. Lithgow, Monica Driscoll and Patrick Phillips. About their endeavours to explain for divergent outcomes in the replications [or lack thereof] of an earlier experiment on anti-aging drugs tested on roundworms. Rather than dismissing the failures or blaming the other teams, the above researchers engaged for four years (!) into the titanic and grubby task of understanding the reason(s) for such discrepancies.

Finding that once most causes for discrepancies (like gentle versus rough lab technicians!) were eliminated, there were still two “types” of worms, those short-lived and those long-lived, for reasons yet unclear. “We need to repeat more experiments than we realized” is a welcome conclusion to this dedicated endeavour, worth repeating in different circles. And apparently missing in the NYT coverage by Susan Dominus of the story of Amy Cuddy, a psychologist at the origin of the “power pose” theory that got later disputed for lack of reproducibility. Article which main ideological theme is that Cuddy got singled-out in the replication crisis because she is a woman and because her “power pose” theory is towards empowering women and minorities. Rather than because she keeps delivering the same message, mostly outside academia, despite the lack of evidence and statistical backup. (Dominus’ criticisms of psychologists with “an unusual interest in statistics” and of Andrew’s repeated comments on the methodological flaws of the 2010 paper that started all are thus particularly unfair. A Slate article published after the NYT coverage presents an alternative analysis of this affair. Andrew also posted on Dominus paper, with a subsequent humongous trail of comments!)

and it only gets worse…

Posted in Kids, pictures with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 14, 2017 by xi'an

“Medicaid pays for most of the 1.4 million people in nursing homes (…) With more than 70 million people enrolled in Medicaid, the program certainly faces long-term financial challenges. Certainly, nursing homes would be part of those cuts, not only in reimbursement rates but in reductions in eligibility for nursing home care.” NYT, June 14, 2017

“…the architects of the Trump contraceptive reversal, Ms. Talento, a White House domestic policy aide, and Mr. Bowman, a top lawyer at the Department of Health and Human Services, have the experience and know-how that others in the administration lack. As a lawyer at the Alliance Defending Freedom, Mr. Bowman assailed the contraceptive coverage mandate on behalf of colleges, universities and nonprofit groups that had religious objections to the rule. Ms. Talento, a former aide to Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina, spent years warning about the health risks of birth control pills.” NYT, July 11, 2017

“Mr. Trump’s revised executive order, issued in March, limited travel from six mostly Muslim countries for 90 days and suspended the nation’s refugee program for 120 days. The time was needed, the order said, to address gaps in the government’s screening and vetting procedures. Two federal appeals courts have blocked critical parts of the order. The administration had asked that the the lower-court ruling be stayed while the case moves forward. The court granted part of that request in its unsigned opinion. NYT, June 24, 2017

The proposed legislation, which Planned Parenthood labels “the worst bill for women’s health in a generation,” would strip the organization of federal funding for one year and bar any federal tax credits from being used to help buy private health plans that cover abortions.” NYT, June 23, 2017

and it only gets worse…

Posted in Kids, pictures with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 30, 2017 by xi'an

“Four years after Texas gave up millions of dollars in federal Medicaid funds so it could ban Planned Parenthood from participating in a family planning program for low-income women, the state is asking the Trump administration for the money back. If the administration agrees to restore the funding for Texas, it could effectively give states the green light to ban Planned Parenthood from Medicaid family planning programs with no financial consequences.” NYT, May 16, 2017

“According to budget documents obtained by the Washington Post, the Trump administration plans to end the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which more than 400,000 people are counting on as part of their financial future. Signed into law in 2007 by George W Bush (…), the program offers those whose jobs benefit society – government and non-profit employees – the chance to have their student loans forgiven after 10 years of on-time, income-based payments.” The Guardian, May 20, 2017

The analogy is pervasive among his critics: Donald Trump is like a child. Making him the president was like making a 4-year-old the leader of the free world. But the analogy is profoundly wrong, and it’s unfair to children. The scientific developmental research of the past 30 years shows that Mr. Trump is utterly unlike a 4-year-old. Four-year-olds care deeply about the truth (…) are insatiably curious (…) can pay attention (…) have a strong moral sense.” NYT, May 21, 2017

“If any president tries to impede an investigation — any president, no matter who it is — by interfering with the F.B.I., yes, that would be problematic,” Senator Marco Rubio, on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on CNN. “It would be not just problematic. It would be, obviously, a potential obstruction of justice that people have to make a decision on.”  NYT, May 21, 2017

“A bill to dismantle the Affordable Care Act that narrowly passed the House this month would leave 14 million more people uninsured next year than under President Barack Obama’s health law — and 23 million more in 2026. Some of the nation’s sickest would pay much more for health care.” NYT, May 25, 2017

estimation versus testing [again!]

Posted in Books, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 30, 2017 by xi'an

The following text is a review I wrote of the paper “Parameter estimation and Bayes factors”, written by J. Rouder, J. Haff, and J. Vandekerckhove. (As the journal to which it is submitted gave me the option to sign my review.)

The opposition between estimation and testing as a matter of prior modelling rather than inferential goals is quite unusual in the Bayesian literature. In particular, if one follows Bayesian decision theory as in Berger (1985) there is no such opposition, but rather the use of different loss functions for different inference purposes, while the Bayesian model remains single and unitarian.

Following Jeffreys (1939), it sounds more congenial to the Bayesian spirit to return the posterior probability of an hypothesis H⁰ as an answer to the question whether this hypothesis holds or does not hold. This however proves impossible when the “null” hypothesis H⁰ has prior mass equal to zero (or is not measurable under the prior). In such a case the mathematical answer is a probability of zero, which may not satisfy the experimenter who asked the question. More fundamentally, the said prior proves inadequate to answer the question and hence to incorporate the information contained in this very question. This is how Jeffreys (1939) justifies the move from the original (and deficient) prior to one that puts some weight on the null (hypothesis) space. It is often argued that the move is unnatural and that the null space does not make sense, but this only applies when believing very strongly in the model itself. When considering the issue from a modelling perspective, accepting the null H⁰ means using a new model to represent the model and hence testing becomes a model choice problem, namely whether or not one should use a complex or simplified model to represent the generation of the data. This is somehow the “unification” advanced in the current paper, albeit it does appear originally in Jeffreys (1939) [and then numerous others] rather than the relatively recent Mitchell & Beauchamp (1988). Who may have launched the spike & slab denomination.

I have trouble with the analogy drawn in the paper between the spike & slab estimate and the Stein effect. While the posterior mean derived from the spike & slab posterior is indeed a quantity drawn towards zero by the Dirac mass at zero, it is rarely the point in using a spike & slab prior, since this point estimate does not lead to a conclusion about the hypothesis: for one thing it is never exactly zero (if zero corresponds to the null). For another thing, the construction of the spike & slab prior is both artificial and dependent on the weights given to the spike and to the slab, respectively, to borrow expressions from the paper. This approach thus leads to model averaging rather than hypothesis testing or model choice and therefore fails to answer the (possibly absurd) question as to which model to choose. Or refuse to choose. But there are cases when a decision must be made, like continuing a clinical trial or putting a new product on the market. Or not.

In conclusion, the paper surprisingly bypasses the decision-making aspect of testing and hence ends up with a inconclusive setting, staying midstream between Bayes factors and credible intervals. And failing to provide a tool for decision making. The paper also fails to acknowledge the strong dependence of the Bayes factor on the tail behaviour of the prior(s), which cannot be [completely] corrected by a finite sample, hence its relativity and the unreasonableness of a fixed scale like Jeffreys’ (1939).