Research examples

Caution

This section is a work in progress.

Things to have handy before you do research

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/07/Media-Bias-Chart_4.0.1_WikiMedia_Commons_Copy.jpg

Worked examples

Taxation, disposable income, quality of life

See the discussion in How do we get to our research question? for this interesting research topic. At this time we give you some reference links below.

Here is an example of how you could carry out some research on that statement to get a more nuanced understanding of taxation and an individual’s quality of life and purchasing power.

[FIXME: unwritten below here]

https://www.cbo.gov/

https://www.cbo.gov/publication/57170

https://www.jct.gov/publications/

tax revenue:

https://www.thebalance.com/current-u-s-federal-government-tax-revenue-3305762

https://www.cbo.gov/about/products/budget-economic-data#2

https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/09_effects_income_tax_changes_economic_growth_gale_samwick.pdf

detailed study:

https://eml.berkeley.edu/~dromer/papers/RomerandRomerAERJune2010.pdf

popular article but quite complete:

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/07/tax_cuts.asp

quality of life and infrastructure:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/04/19/taxes-2020-states-with-the-highest-and-lowest-taxes/111555224/

https://www.epi.org/publication/ib338-fiscal-cliff-obstacle-course/

https://taxfoundation.org/which-states-have-most-progressive-income-taxes-0/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_and_territories_by_income

https://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/0210/7-states-with-no-income-tax.aspx

The King Henry I Eclipse

There is a reddit thread called “Bad NASA Eclipse History, or How Henry I of England did not die twice” at [RedditKingHenryEclipse]

This is a nice worked example of a puzzle that shows sloppy reporting that has made its way into numerous articles as if it were fact.

The fivethirtyeight data sets and examples

The fivethirtyeight team of data journalists make their data sets available, together with the articles they write about what they glean from the data.

The data for their worked examples can be found at:

https://data.fivethirtyeight.com/

President Biden’s comment on the Marijuana suspension of Richardson

Backdrop: shortly before the Tokyo “2020” olympics (which are to take place in the summer of 2021) US sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson, one of the fastest 100 meter athletes in the world, tested positive for THC, the active ingredent in marijuana. Repercussions of this test led to a 30 day suspension from racing, which would keep her out of most of the olympic races, including the 100 meters.

President Biden was asked what he thought of Richardson’s suspension. Part of his reply (where he said “the rules are the rules”) was posted to wtitter by someone, and that reply was then “re-tweeted” by highly regarded statistician Nate Silver, who added a negative comment.

The comment by Nate Silver is at https://twitter.com/NateSilver538/status/1411418022237990912 and I show it here:

Nate Silver
@NateSilver538
Kinda surprised by this from Biden, I'd imagine her suspension is quite unpopular.

Jennifer Jacobs
@JenniferJJacobs
Jul 3, 2021
"The rules are the rules," Biden says in Michigan when asked about
Sha' Carri Richardson's one-month suspension for marijuana
use. @itskerrii will miss the 100m race during the Olympic games in
Tokyo.

I list this in this “worked examples” section because the thread on twitter has a discussion that touches upon many of the questions we might think to ask, and has reflections and conclusions.

Examining the thread brings out several important discussion points and a collection of facts and opinions about the situation, Richardson, Biden, and Silver.

Some points to think about in this exchange are:

  • Some comment on how she knew the framework she works in.

  • Some people comment on the appropriateness of THC bans.

  • Some comment on how the IOC (International Olympic Committee) does not follow US law, but rather its own regulations. In addition they point out that THC can be a “masking agent”, so it might stay banned even if the US lifts its ban.

Note that all these points need to be looked at carefully, but maybe the most important point is made further down in the thread:

  • Someone points out that Biden’s comment was much more detailed and nuanced than “the rules are the rules”.

    The full statement was:

    Everybody knows of the rules going in. Whether they should remain the rules is a different issue, but the rules are the rules.

    I was really proud of the way she responded.

One can also find video clips of this, which confirm the more complete statement by president Biden.

Below I give some of the raw text from the twitter thread. My goal is to get you to think of which comments provide insight.

But it is also to make you think critically of where those comments end, and what they might be missing, and how they might be grossly incorrect.

Remember how in Chapter Where Is This Source Coming From? we lambasted lazy journalists for not asking the next question. We would be as lazy as them if we did not ask the next question about this statement:

Why would it move the ioc? [IOC is the International Olympic Committee] Many legal things are banned by the ioc because they are considered masking agents. The ioc doesn’t care about the federal law in the us.

Jeff C Red circleBlack circleRed circle
@JMC9787
·
Jul 3
Replying to
@NateSilver538
I personally don’t understand all the outrage. Should marijuana be
allowed at this point? Sure. But she knew the rules and knew it
wasn’t allowed and did it anyway. Zero personal accountability. She
made her own bed.


Sean Jones
@sprov4
·
Jul 3
Why punish people for not following a pointless rule?

Jedi, Interrupted Rainbow flagYellow heart
@JediCounselor
·
22h
Replying to
@NateSilver538
FULL QUOTE:

“Everybody knows of the rules going in. Whether they should remain
the rules is a different issue, but the rules are the rules."

“I was really proud of the way she responded,” he adds.

Did you pop off without bothering to get the context again, Nate?


Dr. Berenger
@Frenchesque
·
20h
Thank you for this.  Silver’s tweet makes it sound like Biden
suspended her himself.
It’s irresponsible.

Mike Malloy
@MikeTuesday2
·
Jul 3
Replying to
@NateSilver538
That forbidden “rule” would seamlessly go away with federal drug
reform of THC. Gee Joe, perhaps you should do something about that
already.


Jaime Robledo
@RobledoReturns
·
23h
Literally the next sentence is him questioning whether those laws
should stand.  Why a polling aggregator is offering opinions on
Olympics drug policy anyway is beyond me.


Ron Wechsler
@RonWechsler
·
Jul 3
Replying to
@NateSilver538
Suspect this isn’t the full quote.


Jedi, Interrupted Rainbow flagYellow heart
@JediCounselor
·
22h
Replying to
@NateSilver538
FULL QUOTE:

“Everybody knows of the rules going in. Whether they should remain
the rules is a different issue, but the rules are the rules."

“I was really proud of the way she responded,” he adds.

Did you pop off without bothering to get the context again, Nate?
Dr. Berenger
@Frenchesque
·
20h
Thank you for this.  Silver’s tweet makes it sound like Biden suspended her himself.
It’s irresponsible.
Dave Total Landscaping
@Save_the_Daves
·
23h
Replying to
@NateSilver538
He’s not wrong. You can think the rule is dumb while still
acknowledging she was wrong for knowingly violating it. She
shouldn’t have to stay home for smoking marijuana. She absolutely
should stay home for violating a drug policy she knew full well
would get her DQ’d.
Matthew
@acadianrunner
·
22h
Ya. Keep her home based on a rule that is archaic and based on racism. Great look America
Dr. Berenger
@Frenchesque
·
20h
Marijuana usage isn’t racially determined and the Olympics isn’t American.
I do hope they change the rules.
Dave Total Landscaping
@Save_the_Daves
·
19h
Agree with all of this
ConanTheCnidarian
@CCnidarian
·
Jul 3
Replying to
@NateSilver538
I mean, what is he supposed to say? It’s unfortunate that the rules
are the way they are, but he has a lot more to worry about than
whether marijuana disqualifies you from international track
meets... is Biden supposed to lead the movement to change the track
marijuana rules?
Jamie McCurdy
@ackbar7
·
Jul 3
He should lead a movement to change those rules and laws in our country
josh valentine
@jjv124
·
Jul 3
He said the rules are the rules but whether they should remain that way is a different thing
Jamie McCurdy
@ackbar7
·
Jul 3
Sure, but if he doesn't like them why isn't he doing more to change
the laws here in the US? The question was what was he supposed to
do, and the US legalizing marijuana would probably do a lot to move
the IOC in that direction as well.
josh valentine
@jjv124
·
Jul 3
Why would it move the ioc? Many legal things are banned by the ioc
because they are considered masking agents. The ioc doesn't care
about the federal law in the us

You can use display-thread flag to display replyes.

Unworked examples

Instant messaging and privacy

Article that asks real questions and goes in to detail:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-05-28/signal-app-is-surging-in-popularity-and-hitting-growing-pains

Texas mask mandate mystery

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/05/texas-mask-mandate-no-effect/618942/

Seychelles Islands vaccine mystery

In May 2021 the Seychelles had succeeded in vaccinating more of their population for the COVID-19 virus than any other country on earth. And yet at the same time they had a great increase in COVID-19 cases.

Read the news articles, and possibly scholarly articles, and apply your understanding of selection effects, described in Chapter Cognitive Errors and Selection Effects, Section Selection Effects and the “Hidden Prior”. Prepare a few paragraphs on what might be going on.

This exercise might not give a definitive result in the spring of 2021, since it is a new phenomenon, but you could turn that into a strength for this exercise: get used to having a partial and provisional understanding of a topic, that can adapt gracefully as new information comes in.

Julia Galef’s hidden prior experiment

Chapter Cognitive Errors and Selection Effects, Section Selection Effects and the “Hidden Prior”

Take the “mathematics grad student or business school student” thought experiment that Julia Galef gives at [JuliaGalefBayesianThinkingVideo]. Research the actual ratio of math graduate students and business school students at a few US universities.

Be careful to choose representative samples of academic programs – some universities might be skewed for or against pure mathematics or business.

And maybe you can even research the actual ratio of shy mathematics students to shy business students.

With this real data in hand, see if you can confirm or disprove Galfe’s thought experiment.