Published on Development Impact

Weekly links March 2: quality onions, don’t just try to prove something you already know, jobs cost a lot to create, and more...

This page in:
  • Stephanie Lee’s Buzzfeed article “sliced and diced” describes how Cornell’s Brian Wansink generated so many headline-ready studies on healthy eating, with lots of emphasis on p-hacking and multiple testing. Andrew Gelman makes an important point in his discussion “Good research often involves the unexpected; indeed, that’s kinda why we do most of our research in the first place, because we don’t already know the answers. Like Brian Wansink, I gather and analyze data because I want to learn, not because I’m trying to prove something I already know... In her article, Lee wrote: “Ideally, statisticians say, researchers should set out to prove a specific hypothesis before a study begins.” ...I’m a statistician, and I disagree with the above quoted statement for two reasons: 1. I don’t think it’s generally good practice for a researcher to “set out to prove” anything. Once you start a project with the goal of proving something, you’ve already put a direction on your goals, and there’s a risk of closing your mind. So I’d rather say that researchers can set out to investigate a hypothesis, rather than saying they’re setting out to prove it. 2. Some of the best and most important research is done in a spirit of exploration”.... here I think the problem is not in the data exploration (that is, in considering many comparisons) but rather in the reporting. I’d have no problem if Wansink etc. were to perform a thousand analyses on their data, if they’d just report everything they’d done”
  • On the World Bank Jobs blog, David Robalino on how much does it cost to create a job?
  • On the Development Policy job, Stephen Howe on the expensive Pacific – small Pacific islands are huge outliers to Balassa-Samuelson.
  • Job opportunity: The World Bank’s Africa Region Gender Innovation Lab (GIL) seeks a Short-Term Consultant (STC) to provide partner coordination and evaluation design support for gender-informed impact evaluations (IE) and quantitative analytical projects in Nigeria. The STC will work mainly on the IE of a component of the Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) Project’s Women & Youth Empowerment Program (W&YEP) in Nigeria. The STC will also provide support to the development of further IEs.


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

Join the Conversation

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly
Remaining characters: 1000