Reader ECM points us to “The Great Statistical Schism“, by a fellow named Brendon Brewer who “is a senior lecturer in the Department of Statistics in Auckland.”
Brewer says, as I say, sort of, that it’s time to “teach Bayes first” and not frequentism. He also says, “Frequentist confidence intervals and p-values should still be taught to some extent”, with which I also agree, up to a point. His reasoning for that opinion is good, though “so much research is based on [p-values and confidence intervals], our students need to know what they are.”
P-values and confidence intervals should be taught in the same way phlogiston or communism are taught, as failed, unfortunate ideas which caused nothing but grief.
Brewer appears to be a subjective-objective Bayesian, which is the most common type. They agree probability is subjective, but go about assigning probabilities in an objectivish way.
Of course, probability is not subjective. Given there are two persons in the room, a male and a female, and one will walk out the door, the probability is 1/2 (deduced via something called a statistical syllogism) that it’s the male. But a subjectivist can say, “The probability it’s the male is 0.13424”, or any other number that strikes his fancy.
Yes. That’s what subjectivism implies: unfounded probabilities. But this tendency is but a minor foible next to hypothesis testing, which should be purged with extreme prejudice from science forthwith.
Reader Tahir Nasser (who is a public personality) writes:
Great fun reading your blog. Always enjoy it and I learn something new each time. I wrote a piece too (published on Huffington Post blogs) re.: “are religiously educated up children less altruistic” study. I thought you might be interested to take a look/read:
Do let me know your thoughts, particularly regarding the characterisation of probability modelling as a method to determine “correlation”. That’s how I understand r values in the context of probability models.
In his piece, Nasser shows some of the weaknesses of the “altruism” study. But he also writes:
Firstly, the conclusion is totally unsupported by the evidence. The study shows a correlation (not causation!) of -0.173 between religiosity and altruism. Correlation is measured on a scale of -1 to +1 with 0 meaning no correlation. To draw the authors’ conclusion from this meagre result is laughable. This small correlation indicates that other unaccounted factors are at work. What could they be?
I like the spirit and agree with the conclusion, but I don’t agree with the way it was reached for a technical reason. Probability models say nothing about cause. Even if the correlation was large, which it wasn’t, we could not say “altruism” caused stickers to be stuck in envelopes.
Of course altruistic kids would, ceteris paribus, share more stickers than non-altruistic kids. Why? Because they’re altruistic! We do not need a study to show this, because it’s something that everybody, except some scientists, already knows. But would “religious” kids share more? That’s a bigger mystery, because there are no such things as “religious” kids. There are only kids who have this-and-such beliefs. And the study did not, in any way, measure the beliefs of any kids.
Instead, the researchers developed some stupid pseudo-quantification of “religiosity.” What a farce.
People Who Need People
Reader Loras Holmberg writes (ellipses original):
Appearance on Joe Pags Radio Show…you made the comment that people concerned about population growth “don’t like people”. Disagree. I want a world for future generations that has room for ample wildlife and wild lands. I am 57…have seen changes with my own eyes that bring such a future into doubt. More people generally means less of each. Don’t consider myself extreme…on global warming or climate change, I say “maybe”. Don’t know. As you mentioned, once you scratch the surface, the physics are extremely complex.
Nah, more people do not mean less wildlife. You should see the deer problem my parents have. People don’t hunt as much as they used to, since meat appears like magic wrapped in see-through packaging.
Now you say you don’t not like people, but then you imply you’d rather have less of them in preference for more poisonous snakes, leeches, and cockroaches (well, I filled in the blanks on the kinds of animals). That sounds like not liking people overly much to me.
Yes, the physics on global warming are extremely complex. This is probably why they still can’t make good forecasts, and that they can’t make good forecasts is why we should not believe threats of doom.