Journal Article

Significance Testing in Theory and Practice

Daniel Greco

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 62, issue 3, pages 607-637
Published in print September 2011 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online March 2011 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI:
Significance Testing in Theory and Practice

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Frequentism and Bayesianism represent very different approaches to hypothesis testing, and this presents a skeptical challenge for Bayesians. Given that the most empirical research uses frequentist methods, why (if at all) should we rely on it? While it is well known that there are conditions under which Bayesian and frequentist methods agree, without some reason to think these conditions are typically met, the Bayesian hasn’t shown why we are usually safe in relying on results reported by significance testers. In this article, I provide arguments that such conditions will usually be met; the Bayesian can maintain her theoretical disagreement with the frequentist while holding that her error is mostly harmless in practice.


2Significance Testing: Three Steps

3Two Apparent Fallacies in Significance Testing

4PMT and Alternative Hypotheses

  4.1PMT, predesignation, and the decision to perform a significance test

5Weakening the Evidence

  5.1Natural properties and natural quantities

  5.2Natural quantities and weakening the evidence


Journal Article.  14618 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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