First, note the New & Improved title! Uncertainty, which was suggested by the book’s Foreword author Steven Goldberg, about whom more in a moment. The publisher has the full, complete manuscript (and LaTeX source files) and so the copy editing begins, and later the page proof edits. Average time to publish is about five months from the manuscript submission, I’m told. So we’re looking at June to July. Ish. This would be in time for the summer statistical meetings August in Chicago.
To the colleagues to whom I gave draft copies of the book, I’d say that since then (depending on when you received a copy) the book has changed about 10-20%, all additions and clarifications. The final copy is thus not like what you have. I also removed a large number of typos placed by my enemies—though I’m sure these evil agents have inserted new ones when I wasn’t looking.
To my readers, I once again remind that there is in the book no global warming, no religion, no cultural matters at all, except in a very few instances where science and culture intersect. The book is entirely on the philosophy and practical nature of uncertainty. Even NPR listeners won’t be able to find anything objectionable. No: strike that. NPR listeners can find anything objectionable. But in my book they’d have to work at it.
What’s the book’s main message? In the sciences, we’re too damn sure of ourselves. Why? Because our methods, particularly our probability and statistical methods, don’t do what people think they do. It’s time for a complete, wholesale change in practice. Toss hypothesis test, p-values, parameter estimates onto the flames. (I’m channelling Hume.) Return to the only sane goals: understanding cause and making verifiable predictions.
Strong stuff, no? It takes a full book to prove it. But proofs there are, and plenty of them. Incidentally, I remind readers that I am happy to come and talk on these matters—free! (As long as expenses are paid. But I am a cheap date.) I’ll be in the San Francisco Bay area next Thursday (the 28th). Sign up fast before the parousia!
Steven Goldberg, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, City College, City University of New York, very graciously agreed to write the book’s Foreword. When it gets closer to publication, I’ll post that Foreword, which is a better advertisement than I could ever write.
If you aren’t acquainted with Goldberg’s work, you should be. In particular, there are three works every reader of this site must have (the descriptions are culled from Amazon):
- When Wish Replaces Thought: In Part One – “Why We Behave as We Do” – Goldberg examines the death penalty; the questions of “normality”; the meaning of behavioral cause; the theory of patriarchy; myths (and truths) about black athletic superiority; and the value of standardized tests. In Part Two – “Why We View the World as We Do” – he examines the truths in stereotypes; the logical structure of Freudian theory; the “correct” use of language; the abortion issue; and science, social science, and bad social science.
- Fads and Fallacies in the Social Sciences: Steven Goldberg has devoted his career to exposing fallacious reasoning, misrepresented fact, and ideological agendas in the social sciences. His scholarly critiques offer alternative, and sometimes controversial, explanations that are notable for their logical integrity and loyalty to empirical reality. Best known for his work in the physiological roots of sex differences, he has also written on a myriad of other subjects, which, as he bluntly states, “are as fallaciously reasoned in professional journals as in the cocktail party conversations that naively repeat the errors first propounded in those journals.” Among the subjects addressed are the validity of intelligence tests, group differences, the death penalty, sex differences in aggression and cognition, the family, abortion, and the nature of modern society.
- Why Men Rule: A Theory of Male Dominance: The first edition of this book was lavishly praised by many authorities as the most formidable demonstration of an unpopular truth: males rule in all societies known to history or anthropology, for reasons arising from innate physiology, a brute fact that can never be conjured away by tinkering with social institutions. This new edition has been completely rewritten in the light of two decades of scholarship and debate, taking account of all published criticisms of earlier editions.
Goldberg also wrote a nice book on math, Mathematical Elegance: An Approachable Guide to Understanding Basic Concepts, perfect for those who have difficulty understanding why math is so important. Also, a few years back I did a complete review of Fads and Fallacies in the Social Sciences, which can be found here: I, II, III, IV.