Letters for May 8, 2010
A statistical education
Odds are it’s wrong, but the chances that statistics is to blame are slim and fat. Tom Siegfried (“Odds are, it’s wrong,” SN: 3/27/10, p. 26) accurately portrays the importance of statistics in the conduct of science. However, his failure to clearly distinguish between the misuses of statistics and its methodological limitations leads to misleading conclusions about the role of statistics in the proliferation of erroneous scientific results.
Statisticians have long recognized the challenges presented by multiple testing, the interpretation of observational data, and more recently, the analysis of high-dimensional data. Siegfried rightfully acknowledges the many statisticians and biostatisticians who have persistently and repeatedly written eloquently on these issues. He also notes that appropriate methods, such as those for false discovery control, are available to ameliorate the problems. Yet h