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SST Annual Science Studies Symposium: Charles Geyer

Date: 01/20/2012

Time: 3:35 PM - 5:00 PM

Location: 131 Tate Laboratory of Physics

Cost: Free


 “What Statistics 101 Doesn't Teach, But Should”

Charles Geyer, School of Statistics, University of Minnesota

Introductory statistics courses teach the math not the philosophy, partly in order not to offend, because statistically questionable methodology is widely used in science. This questionable methodology has recently been highlighted in articles with provocative titles such as "The truth wears off: Is there something wrong with the scientific method?" (The New Yorker) and "Why most published research findings are false" (PLoS Medicine). Both parts of The New Yorker title are wrongheaded. The apparent decline of "statistical significance" in follow-up studies is a well-understood result of publication bias and multiple testing without correction, and it does not show anything wrong with "the scientific method." The PLoS Medicine title needs an addendum: in areas of science that rely heavily on statistics (which is understood in that journal). I will explain where the questionable statistical inferences go wrong using the electric power lines and cancer debacle as an illustration.


  • Name: Janet McKernan
  • E-mail: mcker002@umn.edu
  • Phone: 9525919235
  • Sponsored by: Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science

Disability Options:

To request disability accommodations, please contact Janet McKernan, MCPS, mcps@umn.edu, 612-625-6635.

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