Hi. I'm Gareth McCaughan. I've been a consistent reader and occasional commenter since the Overcoming Bias days. My LW username is "gjm" (not "Gjm" despite the wiki software's preference for that capitalization). Elsewehere I generally go by one of "g", "gjm", or "gjm11". The URL listed here is for my website and blog, neither of which has been substantially updated for several years. I live near Cambridge (UK) and work for Hewlett-Packard (who acquired the company that acquired what remained of the small company I used to work for, after they were acquired by someone else). My business cards say "mathematician" but in practice my work is a mixture of simulation, data analysis, algorithm design, software development, problem-solving, and whatever random engineering no one else is doing. I am married and have a daughter born in mid-2006. The best way to contact me is by email: firstname dot lastname at pobox dot com. I am happy to be emailed out of the blue by interesting people. If you are an LW regular you are probably an interesting person in the relevant sense even if you think you aren't.

If you're wondering why some of my very old posts and comments are at surprisingly negative scores, it's because for some time I was the favourite target of old-LW's resident neoreactionary troll, sockpuppeteer and mass-downvoter.

Wiki Contributions


Except that Ramanujan sent letters (of course) rather than emails; the difference is important because writing letters to N people is a lot more work than sending emails to N people, so getting a letter from someone is more evidence that they're willing to put some effort into communicating with you than getting an email from them is.

That's very interesting but it's about replicability not fraud and those are (at least sometimes) very different things.

Possible counters:

1. "Not so different: results that don't replicate are probably fraudulent." I'm prepared to be persuaded but I'd be surprised if most reproducibility-failures were the result of fraud.

2. "Whatever differences between 'worse' and 'better' publications you have in mind that you'd hope would reduce fraud in the 'better' ones, you should also expect to reduce nonreplicability; apparently they don't do that, so why expect them to reduce fraud?" My impression is that a lot of nonreplicability is just "lucky": you happened to get a result with p<0.05 and so you published it, and if you'd got p>0.05 maybe you wouldn't have bothered, or maybe the fancy journal wouldn't have been interested and it would have been published somewhere worse. This mechanism will lead to nonreplicable papers being higher-profile and cited more, without there being anything much about those papers that would raise red flags if a journal is worried about fraud. So to whatever extent fraud is detectable in advance, and better journals try harder to spot it because their reputation is more valuable, better journals will tend to see less fraud but not less nonreplicability. (And: to whatever extent fraudsters expect better journals to try harder to catch fraud, they will tend to avoid publishing their fraudulent papers there.)

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