Redefine Statistical Significance by Edouard Machery

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About this Episode

Are decisions made by scientists one century ago still with us and weigh down science? One decision involves the rules scientists play by when it comes to statistical significance, and more specifically, the rule that results fall below a .05 threshold to count as significant. The point of this threshold is to help minimize false positives. But .05 is consistent with at least 33% of results being false...or worse!

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"Ronald Fisher understood that the choice of 0.05 was arbitrary when he introduced it. Since then, theory and empirical evidence have demonstrated that a lower threshold is needed. A much larger pool of scientists are now asking a much larger number of questions, possibly with much lower prior odds of success. For research communities that continue to rely on null hypothesis significance testing, reducing the P value threshold for claims of new discoveries to 0.005 is an actionable step that will immediately improve reproducibility."