A bunch of links


Jason Collins


January 19, 2024

Social science a mess, journals no good, the meaningless of the label “misinformation”, Flipper Zero, and cleaning up the list of named “biases”:

  1. Social science is a mess and it’s not getting better. A few years old, but a lot of gold. A few nuggets:

Economics topped the charts in terms of expectations, and it was by far the strongest field. There are certainly large improvements to be made — a 2/3 replication rate is not something to be proud of. But reading their papers you get the sense that at least they’re trying, which is more than can be said of some other fields. … A unique weakness of economics is the frequent use of absurd instrumental variables. I doubt there’s anyone (including the authors) who is convinced by that stuff, so let’s cut it out.

Going into this, my view of evolutionary psychology was shaped by people like Cosmides, Tooby, DeVore, Boehm, and so on. You know, evolutionary psychology! But the studies I skimmed from evopsych journals were mostly just weak social psychology papers with an infinitesimally thin layer of evolutionary paint on top. Few people seem to take the “evolutionary” aspect really seriously.

  1. PNAS is Not a Good Journal. The 69 Nature branded journals aren’t any good either.

  2. The misinformation label has become almost meaningless. Fact checking is often more about “vibe” than whether a claim is factual. Dan Williams makes the case that any attempt to divide content into misleading and non-misleading buckets is too subjective.

  3. I’ve recently come across Flipper Zero. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to understand the implications of generative AI and other tech while sitting in front of my laptop, but there’s something to be said about tinkering in the physical world.

  4. A step toward cleaning up the huge list of named “biases” floating around: Toward Parsimony in Bias Research: A Proposed Common Framework of Belief-Consistent Information Processing for a Set of Biases. Some of the clean-up probably doesn’t even need a theoretical framework, just the simple act of recognising that people have named the same phenomena multiple times.