This is a professor, is it?

Blind believe in correlation coefficients in social science is to reduce the subject to an absurd belief that people are rational. They’re not. That’s true in their actions. It’s true in their data selection. It’s true in the way they ask questions. And so it’s true in their findings. In that case saying correlation coefficients are evidence is just wrong. They’re a guide, maybe. But so too is a simple best fit line.

31 comments on “This is a professor, is it?

  1. Good grief… Does he check what he writes or just smashed the keyboard with his fist. This is just total gibberish.

  2. fist ? – i believe it’s the head smash on the keyboard as he laments – sorry Jezza i was wrong.

  3. Blind believe in correlation coefficients in social science is to reduce the subject to an absurd belief that people are rational.

    Well, now we know he doesn’t understand what a correlation coefficient is.

    Surprise.

  4. We use to produce fake scientific papers for a laugh when I worked at a certain oil company and submit them for peer review to idiots like RM to see what got through. The process was called context free grammar. Meaningless statements strung together that looked plausible. I’m beginning to think he’s knocked off our program.

  5. But most social sciences are already absurd beliefs anyway so what’s the problem?

  6. “an absurd belief that people are rational.”

    People do tend to be rational. It’s just that what is rational to us depends on our own values, information and circumstances. Too many ‘experts’ and policy makers appear to fall into the trap of thinking that what is rational to them will be rational to many others.

  7. Candidly, if the methodology might suggest I’m wrong, the methodology is surely wrong. Let’s be clear, I am always right —
    except on Jeremy Corbyn, where I was wrong — because I am left-wing and self-regarding.

  8. He just has no clue as to what a correlation coefficient is, nor how it relates to a best-line fit.

  9. The late John Diamond wrote an excellent book called Snake Oil, all about the cancer ‘cures’ and so-on that people tried to sell him as he was dying. There’s one illustrative passage about double-blind testing which springs to mind here:

    “The test Hyman was involved in was of the body’s ability to differentiate between glucose (a ‘bad’ sugar) and fructose (a ‘good’ sugar). Subjects would lie down, put a drop of glucose on their tongue and hold their arm out at right angles to their chest. The alternativists – chiropractors in this case – would try to push the arm down to the horizontal and in almost every case they succeeded: the ‘bad’ sugar had apparently affected the subjects’ ability to lock their arm. Then they gave the subjects fructose and trie again; this time the arms stayed locke: the ‘good’ sugars hadn’t affected the muscles’ electro-chemical systems.

    “The group broke for lunch and afterwards tried the experiment again, this time with a double-blind element added. A large number of test tubes were brought in, each containing either glucose or the identical-looking fructose. Each tube was labelled with a code rather than the name of the substance: only after the test would anyone – testers, testees, observers – know whether a tube contained fructose or glucose. The subjects took a drop of the liquid on their tongue and as before sometimes they were able to resist, sometimes they weren’t.

    “The code was broken. It turned out, of course, that under the more rigorous conditions there was absolutely no connection between the type of sugar the subjects had eaten and their ability to resist.

    “Hyman wrote: ‘When these results were announced, the head chiropractor turned to me and said “You see, that is why we never do double-blind testing anymore. It never works!” At first I thought he was joking. It turned out he was quite serious. Since he ‘knew’ that applied kinesiology often works, and the best scientific method shows that it does not, then – in his mind – there must be something wrong with the scientific method.'”

  10. Isn’t he really a professor for 10 days a year? He spends the rest of the time performing his comedy routine for the EU Commission

  11. “He just has no clue as to what a correlation coefficient is, nor how it relates to a best-line fit.”

    True. And he has no understanding of the scientific method, let alone the philosophy of science.

  12. “They’re a guide, maybe. But so too is a simple best fit line.”

    In other words, he can get Excel to produce a best fit line for him, but he has no idea how to do the more complex statistical analysis or what it means when he has.

  13. “In other words, he can get Excel to produce a best fit line for him, but he has no idea how to do the more complex statistical analysis or what it means when he has.”

    Spot on, that’s all Ritchie can do.

  14. “In other words, he can get Excel to produce a best fit line for him, but he has no idea how to do the more complex statistical analysis or what it means when he has.”

    And he deletes that annoying R^2 thingy that appears on the top-right and gets in the way…

  15. Since you are so bursting with rationality Dave –where do you get you get your anti-semitic conspiracy cockrot from.

    Has that been double blind tested then?

    As in the blind leading the blind.

  16. Yes, he dismisses coefficient of correlation but doesn’t understand that coefficient of determination is goodness of fit. I wonder if he knows how to run a χ-squared test.

  17. Bloke in Costa Rica said:
    “I wonder if he knows how to run a χ-squared test.”

    I shouldn’t think so. Nor would he know the relevance of the result.

  18. “Has that been double blind tested then?

    As in the blind leading the blind.”

    Very good, a genuine LoL on that one.

  19. Since the correlation coefficient is exactly the measure we need (of our confidence in the best-fit straight line) this is comedy gold.

    And social scientists can still be biased, even while being rational. They’re two separate attributes. So what he’s actually trying to say is anyone’s guess.
    Maybe that all social science isn’t science, so perhaps we could save a lot of money by abandoning it all and sticking to the hard sciences?

  20. Well, Martin Audley, correlation coefficient ≠ R² (coefficient of determination). But they are allied concepts.

  21. “Blind believe in correlation coefficients”.

    He never met a straw-man he didn’t like.

  22. “He never met a straw-man he didn’t like.”

    Especially when the correlation coefficient he presents demonstrates the weakness of the strawman

  23. “Bloke in Costa Rica

    I wonder if he knows how to run a χ-squared test”

    Ask him. I can imagine the exchange.

    You – “Do you actually know how to run a X-squared test?”

    Spud-U-Hate (hastily consults google) “of course I do. Many of the ideas of…..er……….Karl Pearson….are so similar to mine that I and many others have started to refer to the Murphy chi-squared test”

  24. kronos
    June 5, 2017 at 1:24 pm
    We use to produce fake scientific papers for a laugh when I worked at a certain oil company and submit them for peer review to idiots like RM to see what got through. The process was called context free grammar. Meaningless statements strung together that looked plausible. I’m beginning to think he’s knocked off our program.

    Actions have consequences you know.

    It is likely that you single-handedly created the field of Gender Studies with this prank (not to mention American Studies, Film Studies, Grievance Studies – in fact, Anything Studies. And Climate ‘Science’)

    I hope you’re happy now.

  25. Pointing out that the buffoon has “no clue as to what a correlation coefficient is, nor how it relates to a best-line fit” and “no understanding of the scientific method, let alone the philosophy of science” is too kind by far when even the straightforward meaning of his own words seems to elude him.

    Today’s example: “saying correlation coefficients are evidence is just wrong. They’re a guide, maybe” makes as much sense as “this water’s not wet, it’s rain”. Pity his poor students.

  26. @Nemo – his students are spared from him for all but 1 lesson 1 time a week for 1 term a year. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if that workload fell….

  27. Ecksy, darling, I know you keep trying to challenge the idea of a clever Nazi, but there are others in your line who have more than your solitary neuron firing. They keep you on the outside because these days Nazism isn’t about knuckle-dragging, jackbooted, repressed-homosexual thugs.

    You can keep pretending I’m some kind of lone voice if you like. But you’d do better to pick up a copy of Searchlight and find out how many people there are opposing your vile (and frankly insane) ideology.

  28. AndrewC,

    Admittedly, it could be worse, but that’s still infinitely more than they deserve.

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