Jeremy Fox often publishes interesting blogposts like today’s. I’m “reblogging” straight from his site as an experiment.
Why ecologists might want to read more philosophy of science
12 thoughts on “Why ecologists might want to read more philosophy of science”
I am a quantitative ecologist, and I have been following your blog for some time now. I am happy to see this reference to philosophy of science by an ecologist.
Likewise, I think that reading about philosophy of statistics helps me getting a more global perspective about the underlying principles and questions that make the field of statistics evolve.
I was essentially formed as a frequentist but I have become interested in Bayesian ideas quite recently. Reading your error statistics philosophy has not deterred me from studying more about Bayesian ideas. But it surely helped me to better understand the reasoning beyond hypothesis testing.
Hope you could suggest me, as an ecologist (not a philosopher or a mathematical statistician) a similar synthesis of the Bayesian philosophical perspective. I quite enjoyed reading the following introductory book, Stone JV (2013) Bayes’ Rule. A tutorial introduction to Bayesian analysis. Sebtel Press, 170 pp., but would like to go further.
All the best
Of course one of the best known philosophical problems of confirmation concerns (armchair) ornithology!
Jeremy Fox: I need to be honest regarding something you say in your article:
“One thing philosophers (again, at least in the “analytic” tradition) are good at is having productive arguments. In my experience, you don’t see philosophers just repeating the same points and ignoring the arguments of their opponents, hoping to win the argument by sheer force of repetition.”
Philosophers may pride themselves on doing this, and often they do—but an exception seems to be philosophy of confirmation/statistics. That is why my post of April 1, 2011 could even be an “April Fool’s” joke. https://errorstatistics.com/2012/04/01/3102/
Some people were hopeful when they first saw this post, until I deflated them by pointing to the date. I don’t mean people adhere to a given Bayesian howler in the face of a frequentist clarification/response, I mean that the clarification/response is never mentioned, not once, and texts such as Howson and Urbach repeat the howler verbatim, as do the next generation of students. I’m prepared to admit/allow the possibility that this would be much less likely to occur were I a male.
Pingback: Foreword; To Tomorrow | The New Antiquated Taxi Dog Blues
They didn’t carry over the cute fox pic. You’ll have to go to the site to see that.
So my father is an ecologist and I wish he read less philosophy of science. The other day we were having dinner and I said something like:
“You should really try Bayesian statistics! It is really the most flexible approach, you can assume whichever probability distributions you want, it would be a much better fit for the kind of models and data you’re working with.”
And he (basically) replies:
“The Bayesian approach is no good because Deborah Mayo says so.”
For some reason he’s been reading you and come to this conclusion (which is strange because as I read you you argue against a Bayesian philosophy of statistics, not against doing actual Bayesian statistics, right?).
Frequentist vs Bayesian is a philosophical question as long as it only has philosophical implications. But when my father reads philosophy of science and comes to the conclusion that it is not kosher/halal to fit a hierarchical model in BUGS/JAGS/STAN then Frequentist vs Bayesian is not just a philosophical question anymore. If reading philosophy of science stops ecologists from running usefull statistcal analyses using usefull statistical software then perhaps it would be better to read less philosophy of science. Or perhaps read some more usefull philosophy of science at least…