PSA2016: The 25th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association

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Surrogate Science: How Fisher, Neyman-Pearson, and Bayes Were Transformed into the Null Ritual

If statisticians agree on one thing, it is that scientific inference should not be made mechanically. Despite virulent disagreements on other issues, Ronald Fisher and Jerzy Neyman were of one voice here. I trace the historical transformation of Fisher’s null hypothesis testing, Neyman-Pearson decision theory, and Bayesian statistics into a single mechanical procedure performed like compulsive hand washing: the null ritual. Today, proponents of the “Bayesian revolution” are in similar danger of chasing the same chimera: an apparently universal inference procedure. A better path would be to promote an understanding of the various devices in the “statistical toolbox.”

Author Information:

Gerd Gigerenzer    
Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition
Max Planck Institute for Human Development


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