A Brief Tour of Statistical Concepts

Nicholas Lewin-Koh, Mark L. Taper and Subhash R. Lele

in The Nature of Scientific Evidence

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2004 | ISBN: 9780226789552
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226789583 | DOI:
A Brief Tour of Statistical Concepts

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In the seventeenth century, Francis Bacon proposed what is still regarded as the cornerstone of science, the scientific method. Bacon saw science as an inductive process, meaning that explanation moves from the particular to the more general. In 1959, however, Karl Popper argued that science progresses through deduction, meaning that we proceed from the general to the specific. This chapter introduces key concepts of statistical inference. It first differentiates between a scientific hypothesis and a statistical hypothesis and explores the relationship of both to statistical models. It also provides an overview of the sample space, random variables, and the parameter space, as well as the mechanics of testing statistical hypotheses. It then describes the language and most basic procedures of Fisherian P-value tests, Neyman-Pearson tests, Bayesian tests, and the ratio of likelihoods as measures of strength of scientific evidence. It demonstrates each method with an examination of a simple but important scientific question, Fisher's thesis of equal sex ratios. This problem of the sex proportions provides a framework to demonstrate some key concepts in statistics.

Keywords: scientific method; statistics; statistical inference; statistical models; statistical hypotheses; scientific evidence; sex ratios; Fisherian P-value tests; Neyman-Pearson tests; Bayesian tests

Chapter.  5605 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Animal Pathology and Diseases

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