Yates and significance tests

I was reading the newest issue of Significance Magazine last night, and I came across this quote in a letter that someone had written to the magazine:

The emphasis given to formal tests of significance throughout [R.A. Fisher’s] Statistical Methods…has caused scientific research workers to pay undue attention to the results of the tests of significance they perform on their data, particularly data derived from experiments, and too little to the estimates of the magnitude of the effects they are investigating.” … “The emphasis on tests of significance and the consideration of the results of each experiment in isolation, have had the unfortunate consequence that scientific workers have often regarded the execution of a test of significance on an experiment as the ultimate objective. (Yates 1951)

I feel like this is extremely relevant today where it seems that the only thing anyone ever cares about in studies is the p-value and whether or not it is less than the mythical 0.05 cut-off.  But what strikes me most about this quote is that it was written sixty years ago in 1951.


Posted on December 14, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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