This week's theme: uncertainty and contradictory findings in research.
GAZE INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL...
Using the demographic shifts in Washington, D.C. as an example, Megan McArdle explains why forecasting is so difficult.
SAME DATA, OPPOSITE CONCLUSIONS
Paul T. Williams "achieved a feat that's exceedingly rare in mainstream science: He used exactly the same dataset to publish two opposing findings." Williams used data on exercise habits to show both that walking is better than running AND that running is better than walking. Read Daniel Engber's article in Slate to find out why "flip-flopping advice on exercise may not be as contradictory as it seems."
Recently two famous papers generated great controversy when their findings were discovered to be false.
Inaccuracies in the Reinhart/Rogoff debt paper has serious public policy implications, just as undisclosed data sources and specious findings in the Regnerus paper has serious social ones.
Scatterplot lays out the debate about when to retract...
In a cleverly-written piece, Dr. John Weeks explains that demography is not destiny, but it does shape the future...
"the idea that demography is destiny does not mean that you can predict the future based on demographic trends. More subtly, and more importantly, demography shapes what the options for the future will be."