Winner of December Palindrome: Mike Jacovides

Mike Jacovides


Winner of the December 2015 Palindrome contest

Mike Jacovides: Associate Professor of Philosophy at Purdue University

Palindrome: Emo, notable Stacy began a memory by Rome. Manage by cats, Elba to Nome.

The requirement: A palindrome using “memory” or “memories” (and Elba, of course).

Book choice (out of 12 or more)Error and the Growth of Experimental Knowledge (D. Mayo 1996, Chicago)

Bio: Mike Jacovides is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Purdue University. He’s just finishing a book whose title is constantly changing, but which may end up being called Locke’s Image of the World and the Scientific Revolution.

Statement: My interest in palindromes was sparked by my desire to learn more about the philosophy of statistics. The fact that you can learn about the philosophy of statistics by writing a palindrome seems like evidence that anything can cause anything, but maybe once I read the book, I’ll learn that it isn’t. I am glad that ‘emo, notable Stacy’ worked out, I have to say.

Congratulations Mike! I hope you’ll continue to pursue philosophy of statistics! We need much more of that. Good choice of book prize too. D. Mayo Continue reading

Categories: Announcement, Palindrome | 1 Comment

Preregistration Challenge: My email exchange



David Mellor, from the Center for Open Science, emailed me asking if I’d announce his Preregistration Challenge on my blog, and I’m glad to do so. You win $1,000 if your properly preregistered paper is published. The recent replication effort in psychology showed, despite the common refrain – “it’s too easy to get low P-values” – that in preregistered replication attempts it’s actually very difficult to get small P-values. (I call this the “paradox of replication”[1].) Here’s our e-mail exchange from this morning:

          Dear Deborah Mayod,

I’m reaching out to individuals who I think may be interested in our recently launched competition, the Preregistration Challenge ( Based on your blogging, I thought it could be of interest to you and to your readers.

In case you are unfamiliar with it, preregistration specifies in advance the precise study protocols and analytical decisions before data collection, in order to separate the hypothesis-generating exploratory work from the hypothesis testing confirmatory work. 

Though required by law in clinical trials, it is virtually unknown within the basic sciences. We are trying to encourage this new behavior by offering 1,000 researchers $1000 prizes for publishing the results of their preregistered work. 

Please let me know if this is something you would consider blogging about or sharing in other ways. I am happy to discuss further. 


David Mellor, PhD

Project Manager, Preregistration Challenge, Center for Open Science


Deborah Mayo To David:                                                                          10:33 AM (1 hour ago)

David: Yes I’m familiar with it, and I hope that it encourages people to avoid data-dependent determinations that bias results. It shows the importance of statistical accounts that can pick up on such biasing selection effects. On the other hand, coupling prereg with some of the flexible inference accounts now in use won’t really help. Moreover, there may, in some fields, be a tendency to research a non-novel, fairly trivial result.

And if they’re going to preregister, why not go blind as well?  Will they?


Mayo Continue reading

Categories: Announcement, preregistration, Statistical fraudbusting, Statistics | 11 Comments

“Frequentist Accuracy of Bayesian Estimates” (Efron Webinar announcement)


Brad Efron

The Royal Statistical Society sent me a letter announcing their latest Journal webinar next Wednesday 21 October:

…RSS Journal webinar on 21st October featuring Bradley Efron, Andrew Gelman and Peter Diggle. They will be in discussion about Bradley Efron’s recently published paper titled ‘Frequentist accuracy of Bayesian estimates’. The paper was published in June in the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series B (Statistical Methodology), Vol 77 (3), 617-646.  It is free to access from October 7th to November 4th.

Webinar start time: 8 am in California (PDT); 11 am in New York (EDT); 4pm (UK time).

During the webinar, Bradley Efron will present his paper for about 30 minutes followed by a Q&A session with the audience. Andrew Gelman is joining us as discussant and the event will be chaired by our President, Peter Diggle. Participation in the Q&A session by anyone who dials in is warmly welcomed and actively encouraged.Participants can ask the author a question over the phone or simply issue a message using the web based teleconference system.  Questions can be emailed in advance and further information can be requested from

More details about this journal webinar and how to join can be found in StatsLife and on the RSS website.  RSS Journal webinars are sponsored by Quintiles.

We’d be delighted if you were able to join us on the 21st and very grateful if you could let your colleagues and students know about the event.

I will definitely be tuning in!

Categories: Announcement, Statistics | 6 Comments

Workshop on Replication in the Sciences: Society for Philosophy and Psychology: (2nd part of double header)

brain-quadrants2nd part of the double header:

Society for Philosophy and Psychology (SPP): 41st Annual meeting

SPP 2015 Program

Wednesday, June 3rd
1:30-6:30: Preconference Workshop on Replication in the Sciences, organized by Edouard Machery

1:30-2:15: Edouard Machery (Pitt)
2:15-3:15: Andrew Gelman (Columbia, Statistics, via video link)
3:15-4:15: Deborah Mayo (Virginia Tech, Philosophy)
4:15-4:30: Break
4:30-5:30: Uri Simonshon (Penn, Psychology)
5:30-6:30: Tal Yarkoni (University of Texas, Neuroscience)

 SPP meeting: 4-6 June 2015 at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina


First part of the double header:

The Philosophy of Statistics: Bayesianism, Frequentism and the Nature of Inference, 2015 APS Annual Convention Saturday, May 23  2:00 PM- 3:50 PM in Wilder (Marriott Marquis 1535 B’way)aps_2015_logo_cropped-1

Andrew Gelman
Stephen Senn
Deborah Mayo
Richard Morey, Session Chair & Discussant

taxi: VA-NYC-NC

 See earlier post for Frank Sinatra and more details
Categories: Announcement, reproducibility | Leave a comment

Philosophy of Statistics Comes to the Big Apple! APS 2015 Annual Convention — NYC

Start Spreading the News…..



 The Philosophy of Statistics: Bayesianism, Frequentism and the Nature of Inference,
2015 APS Annual Convention
Saturday, May 23  
2:00 PM- 3:50 PM in Wilder

(Marriott Marquis 1535 B’way)





Andrew Gelman

Professor of Statistics & Political Science
Columbia University



Stephen Senn

Head of Competence Center
for Methodology and Statistics (CCMS)

Luxembourg Institute of Health



D. Mayo headshot

D.G. Mayo, Philosopher



Richard Morey, Session Chair & Discussant

Senior Lecturer
School of Psychology
Cardiff University
Categories: Announcement, Bayesian/frequentist, Statistics | 8 Comments

Announcing Kent Staley’s new book, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science (CUP)


Kent Staley has written a clear and engaging introduction to PhilSci that manages to blend the central key topics of philosophy of science with current philosophy of statistics. Quite possibly, Staley explains Error Statistics more clearly in many ways than I do in his 10 page section, 9.4. CONGRATULATIONS STALEY*

You can get this book for free by merely writing one of the simpler palindrome’s in the December contest.

Here’s an excerpt from that section:



9.4 Error-statistical philosophy of science and severe testing

Deborah Mayo has developed an alternative approach to the interpretation of frequentist statistical inference (Mayo 1996). But the idea at the heart of Mayo’s approach is one that can be stated without invoking probability at all. ….

Mayo takes the following “minimal scientific principle for evidence” to be uncontroversial:

Principle 3 (Minimal principle for evidence) Data xo provide poor evidence for H if they result from a method or procedure that has little or no ability of finding flaws in H, even if H is false.(Mayo and Spanos, 2009, 3) Continue reading

Categories: Announcement, Palindrome, Statistics, StatSci meets PhilSci | Tags: | 10 Comments

My Rutgers Seminar: tomorrow, December 3, on philosophy of statistics

picture-216-1I’ll be talking about philosophy of statistics tomorrow afternoon at Rutgers University, in the Statistics and Biostatistics Department, if you happen to be in the vicinity and are interested.


Seminar Speaker:     Professor Deborah Mayo, Virginia Tech

Title:           Probing with Severity: Beyond Bayesian Probabilism and Frequentist Performance

Time:          3:20 – 4:20pm, Wednesday, December 3, 2014 Place:         552 Hill Center


Probing with Severity: Beyond Bayesian Probabilism and Frequentist Performance Getting beyond today’s most pressing controversies revolving around statistical methods, I argue, requires scrutinizing their underlying statistical philosophies.Two main philosophies about the roles of probability in statistical inference are probabilism and performance (in the long-run). The first assumes that we need a method of assigning probabilities to hypotheses; the second assumes that the main function of statistical method is to control long-run performance. I offer a third goal: controlling and evaluating the probativeness of methods. An inductive inference, in this conception, takes the form of inferring hypotheses to the extent that they have been well or severely tested. A report of poorly tested claims must also be part of an adequate inference. I develop a statistical philosophy in which error probabilities of methods may be used to evaluate and control the stringency or severity of tests. I then show how the “severe testing” philosophy clarifies and avoids familiar criticisms and abuses of significance tests and cognate methods (e.g., confidence intervals). Severity may be threatened in three main ways: fallacies of statistical tests, unwarranted links between statistical and substantive claims, and violations of model assumptions.

Categories: Announcement, Statistics | 4 Comments

September 2014: Blog Contents

metablog old fashion typewriterSeptember 2014: Error Statistics Philosophy
Blog Table of Contents 

Compiled by Jean A. Miller

  • (9/30) Letter from George (Barnard)
  • (9/27) Should a “Fictionfactory” peepshow be barred from a festival on “Truth and Reality”? Diederik Stapel says no (rejected post)
  • (9/23) G.A. Barnard: The Bayesian “catch-all” factor: probability vs likelihood
  • (9/21) Statistical Theater of the Absurd: “Stat on a Hot Tin Roof”
  • (9/18) Uncle Sam wants YOU to help with scientific reproducibility!
  • (9/15) A crucial missing piece in the Pistorius trial? (2): my answer (Rejected Post)
  • (9/12) “The Supernal Powers Withhold Their Hands And Let Me Alone”: C.S. Peirce
  • (9/6) Statistical Science: The Likelihood Principle issue is out…!
  • (9/4) All She Wrote (so far): Error Statistics Philosophy Contents-3 years on
  • (9/3) 3 in blog years: Sept 3 is 3rd anniversary of





Categories: Announcement, blog contents, Statistics | Leave a comment

Uncle Sam wants YOU to help with scientific reproducibility!

You still have a few days to respond to the call of your country to solve problems of scientific reproducibility!

The following passages come from Retraction Watch, with my own recommendations at the end.

“White House takes notice of reproducibility in science, and wants your opinion”

ostpThe White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is taking a look at innovation and scientific research, and issues of reproducibility have made it onto its radar.

Here’s the description of the project from the Federal Register:

The Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Economic Council request public comments to provide input into an upcoming update of the Strategy for American Innovation, which helps to guide the Administration’s efforts to promote lasting economic growth and competitiveness through policies that support transformative American innovation in products, processes, and services and spur new fundamental discoveries that in the long run lead to growing economic prosperity and rising living standards.

I wonder what Steven Pinker would say about some of the above verbiage?

And here’s what’s catching the eye of people interested in scientific reproducibility:

(11) Given recent evidence of the irreproducibility of a surprising number of published scientific findings, how can the Federal Government leverage its role as a significant funder of scientific research to most effectively address the problem?

The OSTP is the same office that, in 2013, took what Nature called “a long-awaited leap forward for open access” when it said “that publications from taxpayer-funded research should be made free to read after a year’s delay.That OSTP memo came after more than 65,000 people “signed a We the People petition asking for expanded public access to the results of taxpayer-funded research.”

Have ideas on improving reproducibility? Emails to are preferred, according to the notice, which also explains how to fax or mail comments. The deadline is September 23.

Off the top of my head, how about:

Promote the use of methodologies that:

  • control and assess the capabilities of methods to avoid mistaken inferences from data;
  • require demonstrated self-criticism all the way from the data collection, modelling and interpretation (statistical and substantive);
  • describe what is especially shaky or poorly probed thus far (and spell out how subsequent studies are most likely to locate those flaws)[i]

Institute penalties for QRPs and fraud?

Please offer your suggestions in the comments, or directly to Uncle Sam.

 [i]It may require a certain courage on the part of researchers, journalists, referees.

Categories: Announcement, reproducibility | 18 Comments

3 in blog years: Sept 3 is 3rd anniversary of

Where did you hear this?  “Join me, if you will, for a little deep-water drilling, as I cast about on my isle of Elba.” Remember this and this? And this philosophical treatise on “moving blog day”? Oy, did I really write all this stuff?

cake baked by blog staff for 3 year anniversary of

I still see this as my rag-tag amateur blog. I never learned html and don’t have time to now. But the blog enterprise was more jocund and easy-going then–just an experiment, really, and a place to discuss our RMM papers. (And, of course, a home for error statistical philosophers-in-exile).

A blog table of contents for all three years will appear tomorrow.

Anyway, 2 representatives from Elba flew into NYC and  baked this cake in my never-used Chef’s oven (based on the cover/table of contents of EGEK 1996). We’ll be celebrating at A Different Place tonight[i]–so if you’re in the neighborhood, stop by after 8pm for an Elba Grease (on me).

Do you want a free signed copy of EGEK? Say why in 25 words or less (to, and the Fund for E.R.R.O.R.* will send them to the top 3 submissions (by 9/10/14).**

Acknowledgments: I want to thank the many commentators for their frequent insights and for keeping things interesting and lively. Among the regulars, and semi-regulars (but with impact) off the top of my head, and in no order: Senn, Yanofsky, Byrd, Gelman, Schachtman, Kepler, McKinney, S. Young, Matloff, O’Rourke, Gandenberger, Wasserman, E. Berk, Spanos, Glymour, Rohde, Greenland, Omaclaren,someone named Mark, assorted guests, original guests, and anons, and mysterious visitors, related twitterers (who would rather tweet from afar). I’m sure I’ve left some people out. Thanks to students and participants in the spring 2014 seminar with Aris Spanos (slides and lecture notes are still up).

I’m especially grateful to my regular guest bloggers: Stephen Senn and Aris Spanos, and to those who were subjected to deconstructions and to U-Phils in years past. (I may return to that some time.) Other guest posters for 2014 will be acknowledged in the year round up.

I thank blog compilers, Jean Miler and Nicole Jinn, and give special thanks for the tireless efforts of Jean Miller who has slogged through html, or whatever it is, when necessary, has scanned and put up dozens of articles to make them easy for readers to access, taken slow ferries back and forth to the island of Elba, and fixed gazillions of glitches on a daily basis. Last, but not least, to the palindromists who have been winning lots of books recently (1 day left for August submissions).

*Experimental Reasoning, Reliability, Objectivity and Rationality.

** Accompany submissions with an e-mail address and regular address. All submissions remain private. Elba judges decisions are final. Void in any places where prohibited by laws, be they laws of likelihood or Napoleanic laws-in-exile. But seriously, we’re giving away 3 books.

[i]email for directions.

Categories: Announcement, Statistics | 12 Comments

Blogging Boston JSM2014?



I’m not there. (Several people have asked, I guess because I blogged JSM13.) If you hear of talks (or anecdotes) of interest to error, please comment here (or twitter: @learnfromerror)

Categories: Announcement | 7 Comments

Winner of June Palindrome Contest: Lori Wike



Winner of June 2014 Palindrome Contest: First Second* Time Winner! Lori Wike

*Her April win is here


Parsec? I overfit omen as Elba sung “I err on! Oh, honor reign!” Usable, sane motif revoices rap.

The requirement: A palindrome with Elba plus overfit. (The optional second word: “average” was not needed to win.)


Lori Wike is principal bassoonist of the Utah Symphony and is on the faculty of the University of Utah and Westminster College. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music and a Master of Arts degree in Comparative Literature from UC-Irvine.

Continue reading

Categories: Announcement, Palindrome | Leave a comment

Scientism and Statisticism: a conference* (i)

images-11A lot of philosophers and scientists seem to be talking about scientism these days–either championing it or worrying about it. What is it? It’s usually a pejorative term describing an unwarranted deference to the so-called scientific method over and above other methods of inquiry. Some push it as a way to combat postmodernism (is that even still around?) Stephen Pinker gives scientism a positive spin (and even offers it as a cure for the malaise of the humanities!)[1]. Anyway, I’m to talk at a conference on Scientism (*not statisticism, that’s my word) taking place in NYC May 16-17. It is organized by Massimo Pigliucci (chair of philosophy at CUNY-Lehman), who has written quite a lot on the topic in the past few years. Information can be found here. In thinking about scientism for this conference, however, I was immediately struck by this puzzle: Continue reading

Categories: Announcement, PhilStatLaw, science communication, Statistical fraudbusting, StatSci meets PhilSci | Tags: | 15 Comments

Winner of April Palindrome contest: Lori Wike


Lori Wike

Winner of April 2014 Palindrome Contest:

Lori Wike


Pose ad: ‘Elba fallacy amid aged? Amygdala error or real?’ Ad: gym ad? Egad! I may call a fabled Aesop.

The requirement: A palindrome with Elba plus “fallacy” with an optional second word: “error”. A palindrome using both topped an acceptable palindrome using only “fallacy”. All April submissions used both. Other April finalists are here.


Lori Wike is principal bassoonist of the Utah Symphony and is on the faculty of the University of Utah and Westminster College. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music and a Master of Arts degree in Comparative Literature from UC-Irvine.

Continue reading

Categories: Announcement, Palindrome | 1 Comment

Putting the brakes on the breakthrough: An informal look at the argument for the Likelihood Principle



Friday, May 2, 2014, I will attempt to present my critical analysis of the Birnbaum argument for the (strong) Likelihood Principle, so as to be accessible to a general philosophy audience (flyer below). Can it be done? I don’t know yet, this is a first. It will consist of:

  • Example 1: Trying and Trying Again: Optional stopping
  • Example 2: Two instruments with different precisions
    [you shouldn’t get credit (or blame) for something you didn’t do]
  • The Breakthough: Birnbaumization
  • Imaginary dialogue with Allan Birnbaum

The full paper is here. My discussion takes several pieces a reader can explore further by searching this blog (e.g., under SLP, brakes e.g., here, Birnbaum, optional stopping). I will post slides afterwards.

Mayo poster

Categories: Announcement, Birnbaum Brakes, Statistics, strong likelihood principle | 23 Comments

Phil 6334 Visitor: S. Stanley Young, “Statistics and Scientific Integrity”

We are pleased to announce our guest speaker at Thursday’s seminar (April 24, 2014): Statistics and Scientific Integrity”:

YoungPhoto2008S. Stanley Young, PhD 
Assistant Director for Bioinformatics
National Institute of Statistical Sciences
Research Triangle Park, NC

Author of Resampling-Based Multiple Testing, Westfall and Young (1993) Wiley.





The main readings for the discussion are:


Categories: Announcement, evidence-based policy, Phil6334, science communication, selection effects, Statistical fraudbusting, Statistics | 4 Comments

Self-referential blogpost (conditionally accepted*)

This is a blogpost on a talk (by Jeremy Fox) on blogging that will be live tweeted here at Virginia Tech on Monday April 7, and the moment I post this blog on “Blogging as a Mode of Scientific Communication” it will be tweeted. Live.

Jeremy’s upcoming talk on blogging will be live-tweeted by @FisheriesBlog, 1 pm EDT Apr. 7

Posted on April 3, 2014 by Jeremy Fox

If you like to follow live tweets of talks, you’re in luck: my upcoming Virginia Tech talk on blogging will be live tweeted by Brandon Peoples, a grad student there who co-authors The Fisheries Blog. Follow @FisheriesBlog at 1 pm US Eastern Daylight Time on Monday, April 7 for the live tweets.

Jeremy Fox’s excellent blog, “Dynamic Ecology,” often discusses matters statistical from a perspective in sync with error statistics.

I’ve never been invited to talk about blogging or even to blog about blogging, maybe this is a new trend. I look forward to meeting him (live!).


* Posts that don’t directly pertain to philosophy of science/statistics are placed under “rejected posts” but since this is a metablogpost on a talk on a blog pertaining to statistics it has been “conditionally accepted”, unconditionally, i.e., without conditions.

Categories: Announcement, Metablog | Leave a comment

Winner of the March 2014 palindrome contest (rejected post)

caitlin-parkerWinner of the March 2014 Palindrome Contest

Caitlin Parker


Able, we’d well aim on. I bet on a note. Binomial? Lewd. Ew, Elba!

The requirement was: A palindrome with Elba plus Binomial with an optional second word: bet. A palindrome that uses both Binomial and bet topped an acceptable palindrome that only uses Binomial.

Short bio: 
Caitlin Parker is a first-year master’s student in the Philosophy department at Virginia Tech. Though her interests are in philosophy of science and statistics, she also has experience doing psychological research. Continue reading

Categories: Announcement, Palindrome, Rejected Posts | Leave a comment

Cosma Shalizi gets tenure (at last!) (metastat announcement)

ShaliziNews Flash! Congratulations to Cosma Shalizi who announced yesterday that he’d been granted tenure (Statistics, Carnegie Mellon). Cosma is a leading error statistician, a creative polymath and long-time blogger (at Three-Toad sloth). Shalizi wrote an early book review of EGEK (Mayo 1996)* that people still send me from time to time, in case I hadn’t seen it! You can find it on this blog from 2 years ago (posted by Jean Miller). A discussion of a meeting of the minds between Shalizi and Andrew Gelman is here.

*Error and the Growth of Experimental Knowledge.

Categories: Announcement, Error Statistics, Statistics | Tags: | Leave a comment

Winner of the Febrary 2014 palindrome contest (rejected post)

SamHeadWinner of February 2014 Palindrome Contest
Samuel Dickson

Rot, Cadet A, I’ve droned! Elba, revile deviant, naïve, deliverable den or deviated actor.

The requirement was: A palindrome with Elba plus deviate with an optional second word: deviant. A palindrome that uses both deviate and deviant tops an acceptable palindrome that only uses deviate.

Sam Dickson is a regulatory statistician at U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) with experience in statistical consulting, specializing in design and analysis of biological and genetics/genomics studies.

“It’s great to get a  chance to exercise the mind with something other than statistics, though putting words together to make a palindrome is a puzzle very similar to designing an experiment that answers the right question.  Thank you for hosting this contest!”

Choice of book:
Principles of Applied Statistics (D. R. Cox and C. A. Donnelly 2011, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)

Congratulations, Sam! I hope that your opting to do two words (plus Elba) means we can go back to the tougher standard for palindromes, but I’d just as soon raise the level of competence for several months more (sticking to one word). 

Categories: Announcement, Palindrome, Rejected Posts, Statistics | Leave a comment

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