A reckless guide to P-values: local evidence, global errors

23 Sep 2019  ·  Michael J. Lew ·

This chapter demystifies P-values, hypothesis tests and significance tests, and introduces the concepts of local evidence and global error rates. The local evidence is embodied in \textit{this} data and concerns the hypotheses of interest for \textit{this} experiment, whereas the global error rate is a property of the statistical analysis and sampling procedure... It is shown using simple examples that local evidence and global error rates can be, and should be, considered together when making inferences. Power analysis for experimental design for hypothesis testing are explained, along with the more locally focussed expected P-values. Issues relating to multiple testing, HARKing, and P-hacking are explained, and it is shown that, in many situation, their effects on local evidence and global error rates are in conflict, a conflict that can always be overcome by a fresh dataset from replication of key experiments. Statistics is complicated, and so is science. There is no singular right way to do either, and universally acceptable compromises may not exist. Statistics offers a wide array of tools for assisting with scientific inference by calibrating uncertainty, but statistical inference is not a substitute for scientific inference. P-values are useful indices of evidence and deserve their place in the statistical toolbox of basic pharmacologists. read more

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