There was nothing in the world wrong with my scientific paper “Global Warming Increases Disastrous Music: A Scientific Paper.” Nothing, that is, that isn’t wrong with any paper which seeks, via statistical proof, to show a connection between global warming and some ill effect.
Let’s take the claim that global warming causes bad music and examine it. First, there is, after all, a lot of bad music around and something causes it1. It’s also indisputable that temperatures are increasing, or at least were increasing during the period 1946-2010. And FEMA says disasters are on the rise.
Do you say my theory is false because global warming “obviously” cannot cause bad music to be written? Well, prove it. Prove, in the form of a deduction, why it can’t.
You cannot. At best, your counter evidence will be just another statistical argument, perhaps larded with suppositions of how music is created, how heat is a constructive creative force and not a destructive one, etc. Why would your suppositions trump mine?
in my paper, I gave quantitative evidence in the form of graphs and very small p-values. What quantitative evidence could you possibly provide? The most popular song of every year was worse in 2010 than in 1946 (melodically, lyrically, or harmonically)1. Temperatures increased. So did disasters.
If you argue against my theory you will be arguing against the empirical observations. You will going against the data. You will be an enemy of science!
I, a genuine PhD scientist, and therefore a soul pure and true, provided a causal linkage which shows how bad music could be the result of global warming. How can you disagree with that?
It’s true my linkage is somewhat rough, but that is nothing. I cold have easily padded on paper after paper, surmise after surmise, and made the journey from supposition to conclusion smooth. There are hundreds of papers published monthly that I could have bludgeoned you with.
There are authorities aplenty who do say that global warming causes disasters: I could cite a hundred easily. There are many more peer-reviewed authors who claim that disasters cause mental disease. And there are—they really do exist—scholars who claim that musical ability is harmed by mental illness.
I could have spent a week fine tuning the causal path so that the argument was as compelling as those in any peer-reviewed paper.
After that path came the statistical analysis. Of that, there was nothing untoward. Oh, sure, I could have improved it by, say, taking into account the auto-correlation of the data points, and so forth. But none of these improvements would change the statistical conclusion.
I could have been a Bayesian and not a frequentist, eschewed p-values and provided posteriors of the model parameters. Still, no conclusion would have changed. I could have then gone whole hog and used the techniques that I advocate as being superior to either frequentist of classical Bayesian analysis; i.e. the predictive techniques I’m always on about.
But they wouldn’t have changed anything either. The confidence I had in the conclusion would have gone down a bit (using these modern methods), but it still would have been high. I mean, just look at those pictures! Those are serious and compelling. That’s why any statistical procedure will show high confidence or “significance.”
What choice do you have except to accept my thesis?
If you need statistics to prove something, and you have no proof except statistical proof, then what you have proved probably isn’t true. Statistical evidence is the lowest form of evidence there is.
What a depressing conclusion.
1I used yesterday the increase in the number of words in a pop song as the measure of badness. But that is only a proxy for what I prefer: the decrease in unique words in a song. Repetitiveness is positively correlated with badness. Correlated, I say, not determinative. Anyway, it would not take much effort to shore up the quantification of musical badness, to eliminate repetitiveness, and to instead quantify badness in learned language, speaking of melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic aspects in highly technical terms.