Sorry, wrong number: Statistical benchmark comes under fire

NEW YORK (AP) — Some statisticians and scientists are renewing calls to get rid of a statistical concept that holds huge sway over how scientific results are appraised, which studies get published, and what medicines make it to drugstores.

The concept is called statistical significance, and it’s expressed using a number called a p-value. It’s an all-or-nothing thing. Results are either significant, meaning they are reliable, or not significant, indicating an unacceptably high chance that they were just a fluke.

The concept has been used for decades, but this year has brought two high-profile calls from critics, including from inside the world of statistics, to get rid of it. One call to abolish the practice published this year in a scientific journal attracted more than 800 co-signers.

Categories: National News