Fishing for effects – on estimating the average size of fish in our pond.

There is much nice discussion recently, most recently a Data Colada post about how difficult it is to estimate an effect size.

i am not sure if I wrote it up before or not, but the argument is succinctly captured by trying to estimate the average size of fish in any particular pond (except that is way way easier). Each particular effect size a (group of) researcher(s) gets is like catching a particular fish in that pond (though of course sampling error is essentially taken care of in the pond example).

If one catches 10 or 15 fish from the pond, one can begin estimating the ‘average size of fish in the pond’. But of course, this is only ‘the average size of fish that we caught, in the pond’.

What you catch depends on how you fish… 

The key is that, of course, the size of fish one catches in the pond is related to how one fishes, where one looks, what type of bait one uses, the strategy of reeling, the time of day, the depth that one looks at, and even things like how one approaches the spot one will try to fish.

and of course one only takes a picture/ documents with the largest fish, and the fish become bigger over time (so long as no picture is present), and of course, when it is the person who owns the land doing the documenting and they want people to come fish their land, there is some.. potential upward drift of the average size of the fish.

Image result for things that affect how many fish I catch

a pair of happy academics with the fish they want to report on, with about as much information about how they obtained it as in the average journal article. 

This says nothing of the fact that in our real world example, we don’t actually know how big the pond is, or even if there are fish in it, and we can mistake an old shoe for a fish and a fish for an old shoe.

The key is, of course, that one must be careful in making proclamations about the size or presence of fish in the pond.


On suggestions there are no fish in the pond.. 

This is especially true after any single fishing trip, or any group of fishers that all use the same lure, or look in the same area or the same way… as maybe they were just doing it wrong, or at the wrong time, or with the wrong bait, or etc etc.

Image result for things that affect how many fish I catch

In any case, I think you get the point. Would be happy to discuss below.

Love ya, Keep on,






A Treatise of Human Nature.. by David Hume (1739)


Attached here is Hume’s Treatise on Human Nature, actually it is quite interesting. Looking at the table of contents, you see that it is mostly interested in understanding, how we make sense of the world, passions, which seems like motivations really, and then morals, which is essentially about justice and how we understand right and wrong.

Really interesting, and actually it was one of Einstein’s favorite books, he even said it was influential in his thinking. I do with I had time to read it, but I am at least glad I was able to look at the TOC.

Have you read it? What do you think is best?

Love ya,




Editor’s Preface.


Book I: Of the Understanding


Part I.: Of Ideas, Their Origin, Composition, Connexion, Abstraction, &c.

Section I.: Of the Origin of Our Ideas.
Section II.: Division of the Subject.
Section III.: Of the Ideas of the Memory and Imagination.
Section IV.: Of the Connexion Or Association of Ideas.
Section V.: Of Relations.
Section VI.: Of Modes and Substances.
Section VII.: Of Abstract Ideas.

Part II.: Of the Ideas of Space and Time.

Section I.: Of the Infinite Divisibility of Our Ideas of Space and Time.
Section II.: Of the Infinite Divisibility of Space and Time.
Section III.: Of the Other Qualities of Our Ideas of Space and Time.
Section IV.: Objections Answer’d.
Section V.: The Same Subject Continu’d.
Section VI.: Of the Idea of Existence, and of External Existence.

Part III.: Of Knowledge and Probability.

Section I.: Of Knowledge.
Section II.: Of Probability; and of the Idea of Cause and Effect.
Section III.: Why a Cause Is Always Necessary.
Section IV.: Of the Component Parts of Our Reasonings Concerning Cause and Effect.
Section. V.: Of the Impressions of the Senses and Memory.
Section VI.: Of the Inference From the Impression to the Idea.
Section VII.: Of the Nature of the Idea Or Belief.
Section VIII.: Of the Causes of Belief.
Section IX.: Of the Effects of Other Relations and Other Habits.
Section X.: Of the Influence of Belief.
Section XI.: Of the Probability of Chances.
Section XII.: Of the Probability of Causes.
Section XIII.: Of Unphilosophical Probability.
Section XIV.: Of the Idea of Necessary Connexion.
Section XV.: Rules By Which to Judge of Causes and Effects.
Section XVI.: Of the Reason of Animals.

Part IV.: Of the Sceptical and Other Systems of Philosophy.

Section I.: Of Scepticism With Regard to Reason.
Section II.: Of Scepticism With Regard to the Senses.
Section III.: Of the Antient Philosophy.
Section IV.: Of the Modern Philosophy.
Section V.: Of the Immateriality of the Soul.
Section VI.: Of Personal Identity.
Section VII.: Conclusion of This Book.


Book II: Of the Passions

Part I.: Of Pride and Humility.
Section I.: Division of the Subject.
Section II.: Of Pride and Humility; Their Objects and Causes.
Section III.: Whence These Objects and Causes Are Deriv’d.
Section IV.: Of the Relations of Impressions and Ideas.
Section V.: Of the Influence of These Relations On Pride and Humility.
Section VI.: Limitations of This System.
Section VII.: Of Vice and Virtue.
Section VIII.: Of Beauty and Deformity.
Section IX.: Of External Advantages and Disadvantages.
Section X.: Of Property and Riches.
Section XI.: Of the Love of Fame.
Section XII.: Of the Pride and Humility of Animals.

Part II.: Of Love and Hatred.

Section I.: Of the Objects and Causes of Love and Hatred.
Section II.: Experiments to Confirm This System.
Section III.: Difficulties Solv’d.
Section IV.: Of the Love of Relations.
Section V.: Of Our Esteem For the Rich and Powerful.
Section VI.: Of Benevolence and Anger.
Section VII.: Of Compassion.
Section VIII.: Of Malice and Envy.
Section IX.: Of the Mixture of Benevolence and Anger With Compassion and Malice.
Section X.: Of Respect and Contempt.
Section XI.: Of the Amorous Passion, Or Love Betwixt the Sexes.
Section XII.: Of the Love and Hatred of Animals.
Part III.: Of the Will and Direct Passions.

Section I.: Of Liberty and Necessity.
Section II.: The Same Subject Continu’d.
Section III.: Of the Influencing Motives of the Will.
Section IV.: Of the Causes of the Violent Passions.
Section V.: Of the Effects of Custom.
Section VI.: Of the Influence of the Imagination On the Passions.
Section VII.: Of Contiguity, and Distance In Space and Time.
Section VIII.: The Same Subject Continu’d.
Section IX.: Of the Direct Passions.
Section X.: Of Curiosity, Or the Love of Truth.

Book III: Of Morals

Part I.: Of Virtue and Vice In General.

Section I.: Moral Distinctions Not Deriv’d From Reason.
Section II.: Moral Distinctions Deriv’d From a Moral Sense.

Part II.: Of Justice and Injustice.

Section I.: Justice, Whether a Natural Or Artificial Virtue?
Section II.: Of the Origin of Justice and Property.
Section III.: Of the Rules, Which Determine Property.
Section IV.: Of the Transference of Property By Consent.
Section V.: Of the Obligation of Promises.
Section VI.: Some Farther Reflexions Concerning Justice and Injustice.
Section VII.: Of the Origin of Government.
Section VIII.: Of the Source of Allegiance.
Section IX.: Of the Measures of Allegiance.
Section X.: Of the Objects of Allegiance.
Section XI.: Of the Laws of Nations.
Section XII.: Of Chastity and Modesty.

Part III.: Of the Other Virtues and Vices.

Section I.: Of the Origin of the Natural Virtues and Vices.
Section II.: Of Greatness of Mind.
Section III.: Of Goodness and Benevolence.
Section IV.: Of Natural Abilities.
Section V.: Some Farther Reflexions Concerning the Natural Virtues.
Section VI.: Conclusion of This Book.


The Behavior of Organisms: An Experimental Analysis

This is Skinner’s first book, so far as I can see. Really quite interesting.

Really quite interesting, in its table of contents.

IX       DRIVE 341


Basically it is about conditioning, he doesn’t come to drive until the end. He doesn’t mention person differences at all, in the table of contents at least. Also doesn’t talk about the biological basis, the neuron at all, so far as I can see. Nor anything about personality or etc, nor influence or really people beyond the individual..

It is also his first book, so far as I can see. Really quite long at 450 pages.


The full book is available here.

Find a significant effect in any study

Too much yall :,D too much


Stephen Politzer-Ahles is Assistant Professor at the Department of Chinese and Bilingual Studies of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He is committed to finding solutions to current challenges in the cognitive sciences. For instance, he is developing efficient and transparent strategies to empty out his own file drawer.

p>.05. We’ve all been there. Who among us hasn’t had a student crying in our office over an experiment that failed to show a significant effect? Who among us hasn’t been that student?

Statistical nonsignificance is one of the most serious challenges facing science. When experiments aren’t p<.05, they can’t be published (because the results aren’t real), people can’t graduate, no one can get university funding to party it up at that conference in that scenic location, and in general the whole enterprise falls apart. The amount of taxpayer dollars that have been wasted on p>.05 experiments is frankly…

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The parable of the NBA replicators

The normal players in the NBA could see the michael jordans and kobe bryants had once made 80 points in a single NBA game (20 years ago), and wanted to replicate such results for themselves. after all, this was an excellent outcome, really something to talk about, and they wanted some of it themselves.

Unfortunately, try as they might, they could not replicate that result; they could not get the 80 points in a game. No matter how hard they tried, they could only get 30 to 40 points in a game, at best. Not being able to do it in their own court, no matter how many times they tried, they traveled to other courts, and even asked many of their friends to try to get 80 points in a night, even to publicly claim that they would try to get the 80 points in their next game. They felt that if they logged their intentions of getting 80 points in a game and how they would do it, and had many people look, it would make it more likely, or cast doubt on the original 80 point performance.

Again unfortunately, even players who were the best at doing other things, those that could get 30 rebounds in a night, 35 assists, could not get the 80 points in a night.

It was dismaying to everyone around, and the average and bench players began to cast doubt upon the original performances, saying it couldn’t be done anymore, or even that the original was somehow faked.

This was very dismaying to players who had achieved such a laudable result. Unfortunately, when they tried to assert that they had actually achieved the desired 80 points per game, they were met only with scorn and suggestions that if they wanted people to believe them, that they should publicly register that they will recreate that 80 point game in the next match they played (despite that the original performance was now more than 20 years ago, with a different team, and MJ had since had 2 surgeries on his knee).

And so the average players called a march, and demanded that drastic changes in the league be made, such that the only things that were valued were those things that anyone else could be easily replicated by anybody on any court.

the end.

Identifying Impact

is the title of a game we are developing, examining whether people can tell how much impact a scientific paper has based upon its title and abstract.


The idea is to test how well people can identify scientific impact by the titles alone. Not only can we correlate the people scores with actual impact metrics, we can examine which metrics are the best indicators of what the people think is best or most interesting.

More than this, we can examine how much of the eventual impact of the title can be predicted utilizing e.g., expert or layperson perceptions about the value of the work from the title alone.

Finally, the study opens the ability to examine whether person differences affect e.g., what people find interesting, or how well the scores are related with commonly utilized impact metrics.


More generally, it will be made available so that other researchers can utilize the template to run their own studies that are similar.




Evolution in action – super resistant bacteria


A Neat little video about how bacteria evolve, but also want to point out how they are basically creating super mutant bacteria in like 11 days, yes?


Also watch from about 1:19, where it is the shortest route from the original mutation to the first one who breaks into the 10 and 100 times antibotic. and notice how the ones who first broke really into the 1000 times all stuck together really well.