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The Limitations of Statistical Significance – “The Signal and the Noise: The Art and Science of Prediction”, Nate Silver

November 22nd, 2012 · No Comments · Data, Statistical Inference, Statistics

The bigger problem, however, is that the frequentist methods—in striving for immaculate statistical procedures that can’t be contaminated by the researcher’s bias—keep him hermetically sealed off from the real world. These methods discourage the researcher from considering the underlying context or plausibility of his hypothesis, something that the Bayesian method demands in the form of a prior probability. Thus, you will see apparently serious papers published on how toads can predict earthquakes, or how big-box stores like Target beget racial hate groups, which apply frequentist tests to produce “statistically significant” (but manifestly ridiculous) findings.

Fisherian statistical methods do not encourage us to think about which correlations imply causations and which ones do not.

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