Thursday 14 April 2011

Statistical significance and information

Statistical significance is one thing, but the information you get from the statistics is something else - and, crucially, depends on context.
Amplify’d from
Statistically significant: The US Supreme Court takes a view
By: Professor Kevin McConway1 (The Open University)
A lawsuit over a cold remedy has forced the US Supreme Court into deciding what might be statistically significant.
The rulings of the US Supreme Court aren't the place most people would start looking for a discussion of what the phrase "statistically significant" might mean. But in March 2011, America's highest court of justice made a decision that involved exactly that. [...]
If a feature in data is not statistically significant, it's reasonable to take that to mean that the feature might plausibly be due solely to the workings of chance.
But just because it might be due to chance, that doesn't mean it is due to chance. That's only one possible explanation.

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