what do drug tests actually measure?

Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle’s The Secret Race is a very detailed account of Hamilton’s (and, e.g., Lance Armstrong’s) doping during his bicycle racing career. Here’s one bit I found particularly interesting:

Journalists often used the term “arms race” to describe the relationship between the drug testers and the athletes, but that wasn’t quite right, because it implied that the testers had a chance of winning. For us, it wasn’t like a race at all. It was more like a big game of hide-and-seek played in a forest that has lots of good places to hide, and lots of rules that favor the hiders. So here’s how we beat the testers:

• Tip 1: Wear a watch.

• Tip 2: Keep your cell phone handy.

• Tip 3: Know your glowtime: how long you’ll test positive after you take the substance.

What you’ll notice is that none of these things are particularly difficult to do. That’s because the tests were very easy to beat. In fact, they weren’t drug tests. They were more like discipline tests, IQ tests. If you were careful and paid attention, you could dope and be 99 percent certain that you would not get caught.

(Note: Any analogies to academia, say for example for plagiarism detection or even for research fraud, are left as an exercise to the reader.)

another step forward for open science

The esteemed journal Nature has issued new guidelines about code availability. Includes:

Nature and the Nature journals have decided that, given the diversity of practices in the disciplines we cover, we cannot insist on sharing computer code in all cases. But we can go further than we have in the past, by at least indicating when code is available. Accordingly, our policy now mandates that when code is central to reaching a paper’s conclusions, we require a statement describing whether that code is available and setting out any restrictions on accessibility. Editors will insist on availability where they consider it appropriate: any practical issues preventing code sharing will be evaluated by the editors, who reserve the right to decline a paper if important code is unavailable. Moreover, we will provide a dedicated section in articles in which any information on computer code can be placed.

geeks at war!


Yesterday Eszter got me started playing Ingress, which to paraphrase this good introduction, is sort of like Foursquare meets geocaching meets a sci-fi version of the Cold War.  The map above shows the current battle between the two teams: the Resistance (blue) vs. the Enlightened (green).  Also, as you can see, the places where war is afoot versus those where it is not also provides a good proxy for global digital inequality.

(If you do check it out, might I suggest Team Green?  Sure, “resistance” might sound more plucky, but it’s really all about keeping the world the way it is, whereas enlightenment is about making the world better.  Or at least that’s the lofty rationale we’re using to try to get you to join our team.)

ello is now a public benefit corporation

As part of our continuing discussion over the ethics of Facebook’s emotional manipulation study, Philip Cohen advanced the idea that we should simply declare FB a public utility and regulate it as such:

But Facebook is too big, and they own irreplaceable archives of hundreds of millions of people’s stuff. I figure just nationalize it or regulate it as a public utility – call it critical infrastructure. Then let private companies out-innovate boring Facebook.gov if they want to and win people away.

This notion struck me as a bit extreme, but provocative in just the right way. What kind of a service is a massive social network and in whose interests should it be run? We need better answers to that question.

Enter Ello.co. Continue reading “ello is now a public benefit corporation”

asa renewal – now with social media

Look! When you renew your ASA membership, there are now fields for you to enter your Twitter, handle, blog address, or other social media info.

asa member

This is something that we requested on the Task Force on Social Media (now the Task Force on Engaging Sociology) that was begun by President Annette Lareau last year to improve the ASA’s engagement with social media. If you input your Twitter handle here, for example, the ASA can include the info on our nametags at the conference, create a list of sociologists’ blogs, etc.

It is all optional, of course.

data disclosure checklist

Happened across the data disclosure checklist required by Management Science. So simple!

Indicate (e.g., by underlining) “Yes” or “No”:

Yes No - This manuscript includes analysis of data (e.g., field data, simulated data, experimental data, primary data, secondary data, public data, private data, etc.).

Yes No - If our manuscript is accepted we will provide the journal with our data so that it can be posted on the journal’s website. To promote additional research and to increase the credibility of a paper’s findings, data disclosure is encouraged but not required.

Yes No - A portion of our data cannot be disclosed due to a non-disclosure agreement or similar limitations on disclosure. If “Yes,” briefly explain which data cannot be disclosed and why:

For papers that report experimental data, please answer the following:

Yes No - We report how we determined our sample sizes, all data exclusions (if any), all manipulations (for experimental work), and all measures collected.