Making Data Work

Researchers pursue analogy between statistical evidence and thermodynamics

By Tom Siegfried, 12:07 PM August 23, 2012

A fundamental problem for almost all science is how to tell a fluke from a fact.

It’s usually very hard to know whether an experiment’s result reflects a truth of nature or a random accident. So scientists use elaborate math to gauge the odds that a finding is bogus. But those odds rarely offer definitive evidence — or even much evidence at all. In fact, evidence in science is a slippery concept. It’s kind of like the U.S. Supreme Court’s idea of pornography: Scientists supposedly know evid...

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