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Eric_1 comments on Lost Purposes - Less Wrong

68 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 25 November 2007 09:01AM

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Comment author: Eric_1 25 November 2007 05:18:54PM 7 points [-]

A brilliant post with many links to the Yudkowsky Canon. It has just become a bookmark.

One quip: the study which revealed that a majority of research findings were false seemed to rely on a simulation, and on one meta-study performed earlier by the group. Have I understood this correctly?

Perhaps the p for biological experiments should be lower, but my first inclination is to defend the field I work in and its custom of p<0.05 .

Every time I open up an animal for surgery, the animals nerves are lying in *slightly* different places. There is a different amount of muscle-tissue obscuring the nerve I have to record from. I have to re-manufacture my electrode after every few surgeries. The hook on my electrode is differently shaped each time. When I put the nerve on the electrode, I pull it up with a different amount of force, in a different position, and do a different degree of damage to the nerve's processes.

Every animal is slightly different, and every surgery goes slightly differently.

Therefore, I think it might be understandable, why I need a p that is higher than a physicists, because if the physicist uses the same stock of materials, he has much less variability in his setup to begin with.

Comment author: Kurros 27 April 2014 01:03:56AM 2 points [-]

That sounds to me more like an argument for needing lower p-values, not higher ones. If there are many confounding factors, you need a higher threshold of evidence for claiming that you are seeing a real effect.

Physicists need low p-values for a different reason, namely that they do very large numbers of statistical tests. If you choose p=0.05 as your threshold then it means that you are going to be claiming a false detection at least one time in twenty (roughly speaking), so if physicists did this they would be claiming false detections every other day and their credibility would plummet like a rock.