Let's say that you live in a society with two possible crimes: one with a year-long sentence, and one with a twenty-year sentence. Of criminals in your society, 95% are convicted of the crime with a year-long sentence, and 5% are convicted of the crime with a twenty-year sentence.
So, to determine what people in your society are incarcerated for, you dip into the prison population at a single point and see what people have been convicted of. You'll find that your prison population is divided straight down the middle: 50% of the population consists of people who committed the one-year crime, and 50% consists of people who committed the twenty-year crime.
This happens because the distribution of prisoners currently incarcerated is controlled by two factors: the base rate of crime in the underlying society, and the duration of prisoners' sentences. Each twenty-year inmate will appear in 20 different yearly samples. Each one-year inmate will only appear in the sample from the year he's incarcerated.
For similar reasons, prisoners with multiple nonconsecutive incarcerations in the study period will be vastly overrepresented in the population. Which means that, by studying people who are in prison at any single point in time, we're getting a view not of the typical person who has been in prison, but the person who is most likely to be in prison.
It's hard to overstate how awful this is: we've been making public policy based on studies like this for a very, very long time.
* Men are rated more funny because they attempt more jokes. There's no difference in the quality of jokes attempted, overall.
* Men tend to weight laughing at their jokes as more important than producing humor, in a partner. For women, the preference is reversed.
The sample size here wasn't great, and I linked directly to a commenter who provided superior analysis.
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