This December 13 article published by The New Yorker adds fuel to fire for deemphasizing significance testing as the criterion for accepting purported advancements in science. It’s well worth reading for anyone with a stake in statistics, despite raking over the same coals seen in this March 27 Science News article, which I discussed in a previous blog.*
“A lot of extraordinary scientific data are nothing but noise.”
- Jonah Lehrer, author of “The Truth Wears Off: Is there something wrong with the scientific method”
Evidently much of the bad science stems from “significance-chasers” – those who hunt out findings that pass the generally-accepted p-value of 5% for hypothesis testing. Unfortunately a statistically-significant outcome from an badly-designed experiment is of no value whatsoever.
PS. I credit blogger William Briggs for bringing this article to my attention. His attitude is provided succinctly by this assertion: “Scientists are too damn certain of themselves.”
*Misuse of statistics calls into question the credibility of science March 28, 2010.