Tag Archives: significance

Tantalisingly close to significance

Matthew Hankins and others on Twitter are making fun of scientists who twist themselves up lexically in order to report results that fail the significance test, using phrases like “approached but did not quite achieve significance” and “only just insignificant” and “tantalisingly close to significance.”

But I think this fun-making is somewhat misplaced!  We should instead be jeering at the conventional dichotomy that a result significant at p < .05 is “a real effect” and one that scores at p = .06 is “no effect.”

The lexically twisted scientists are on the side of the angels here, insisting that a statistically insignificant finding is usually much better described as “not enough evidence” than “no evidence,” and should be mentioned, in whatever language the journal allows, not mulched.

 

 

 

 

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Was Russian election turnout too non-Gaussian to be real?

 We’ve talked about attempts to prove election fraud by mathematical means before.  This time the election in question is in Russia, where angry protesters marched in the streets with placards displaying the normal distribution.  Why?  Because the turnout figures look really weird.  The higher the proportion of the vote Vladimir Putin’s party received in a district, the higher the turnout; almost as if a more ordinary-looking distribution were being overlaid with a thick coating of Putin votes…  Mikhail Simkin in (extremely worth reading pop-stats magazine) Significance argues there’s no statistical reason to doubt that the election results are legit.  Andrew Gelman is not reassured.

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