Monthly Archives: January 2023

2023 Syllabus for Philosophy of Inductive-Statistical Inference

PHIL 6014 (crn: 20919): Spring 2023 

Philosophy of Inductive-Statistical Inference
(This is an IN-PERSON class*)
Wed 4:00-6:30 pm, McBryde 223
(Office hours: Tuesdays 3-4; Wednesdays 1:30-2:30)

Syllabus: Third Installment (PDF)
Syllabus Evaluation & Advice (enrolled members (PDF))

D. Mayo (2018) Statistical Inference as Severe Testing: How to Get Beyond the Statistics Wars (SIST) CUP, 2018: SIST (electronic and paper provided to those taking the class; proofs are at, see below).
Supplemental text: Hacking, I. (2001). An introduction to probability and inductive logic. Cambridge University Press.
Articles from the Captain’s Bibliography (links to new articles will be provided). 
Other useful information can be found on the SIST Abstracts & Keywords and this post with SIST Excerpts & Mementos)

Date Themes/readings
1. 1/18       Introduction to the Course:
How to tell what’s true about statistical inference

(1/18/23 SLIDES here)

Reading: Statistical Inference as Severe Testing: How to Get Beyond the Statistics Wars (SIST): Preface, Excursion 1 Tour I 1.1-1.3, 9-29

MISC: Souvenir A; SIST Abstracts & Keywords for all excursions and tours
2. 1/25
Q #2
Error Probing Tools vs Comparative Evidence: Likelihood & Probability
What counts as cheating?
Intro to Logic: arguments validity & soundness

(1/25/23 SLIDES here)

Reading: SIST: Excursion 1 Tour II 1.4-1.5, 30-55
Session #2 Questions: (PDF)

MISC: NOTES on Excursion 1, SIST: Souvenirs B, C & D, Logic Primer (PDF)
3. 2/1
   Q #3
Induction and Confirmation: PhilStat & Formal Epistemology
The Traditional Problem of Induction
Is Probability a Good Measure of Confirmation? Tacking Paradox

(2/1/23 SLIDES here)

Reading: SIST: Excursion 2, Tour I: 2.1-2.2, 59-74
Hacking “The Basic Rules of Probability” Hand Out (PDF)
UPDATED: Session #3 Questions: (PDF)

MISC: Excursion 2 Tour I Blurb & notes
4. 2/8 &
5. 2/15
Assign 1 2/15 
Falsification, Science vs Pseudoscience, Induction
Statistical Crises of Replication in Psychology & other sciences
Popper, severity and novelty, array of problems and models
Fallacies of rejection, Duhem’s problem; solving induction now

(/2/8/23 SLIDES here)

Reading for 2/8: Popper, Ch 1 from Conjectures and Refutations up to p. 59. (PDF),
This class overlaps with the next, so if you have time read Excursion 2, Tour II: (p. 75-82); Exhibit vi. (p. 82); and p. 108

Session #4 Questions: (PDF)
MISC (2/8): Self-quiz on Popper for Fun! (PDF); Cartoon Guide to Statistics (Link to VT Library link is here)
Reading for 2/15: SIST: Excursion 2, Tour II: read sections that interest you from those not covered last week. You can choose the example in 2.6 (or one from your field) or the discussion of solving induction in 2.7. Optional for 2/15: Gelman & Loken (2014)

(2/15/23 SLIDES here)

ASSIGNMENT 1 (due 2/15) (PDF)
MISC (2/15): SIST Souvenirs (E), (F), (G), (H); Excursion 2 Tour II Blurb & notes
  Fisher Birthday: February 17: Celebration on 2/22
6. 2/22
 Q #6
7. 3/1


Ingenious and Severe Tests: Fisher, Neyman-Pearson, Cox: Concepts of Tests

Reading for 2/22 from SIST: Excursion 3 Tour I: 3.1-3.3: read the sections that interest you, choosing to focus on the statistical tests, the history and philosophy of Fisher, Neiman and Pearson, the example of GTR. Choose 2 from the Triad (they’re very short): Fisher (1955), Pearson (1955), Neyman (1956)

(2/22/23 SLIDES here)

Session #6 Questions: (PDF)

Optional: The pathological Fisher (fiducial) and Neyman (performance) battle: SIST 388-391


Reading for 3/1: Sections from SIST skipped last week: Excursion 3 Tour I: (If time, look at the discussion of trade-offs 328-330) If interested in fiducial frequencies, see Neyman’s Performance and Fisher’s fiducial Section 5.8
Optional: Excursion 3 tour II: It’s the methods, stupid!

(3/1/23 SLIDES here)

MISC: Excursion 3 Tour I Blurb & notes; Souvenirs (I), (J), (K)
Morey app including Examples & Instructions (here);(Morey app) (SEV Apps)

SPRING BREAK Statistical Exercises While Sunning (March 4-12)

Sessions #11-14 are tentative;  please have a look at what’s in them so we can decide which to skip 
8. 3/15
Assign 2
Deeper Concepts (2 parts): Stat in the Higg’s discovery, and Confidence intervals and their duality with tests

Reading (for first part): Excursion 3 Tour III, 3.8 Higgs Discovery (See the ASA 6 principles on P-values: Note 4, P. 216, and Live Exhibit (ix) p. 200: Souv. N p. 201
Reading (for second part): Excursion 3 Tour III, 3.7: pp. 189-195

Assignment 2
(PDF) due 3/17/23

(3/15/23 (revised) SLIDES here)

Misc. Excursion 3 Tour III blurb & notes
9. 3/22

Testing Assumptions of Statistical Models (Guest Speaker: Aris Spanos on misspecification testing in statistics)

Reading: Excursion 4 Tour IV 4.8

(3/22/23 A. Spanos’ SLIDES here)

Misc. Excursion 4 Tour IV blurb & notes

10. 3/29


Who’s Exaggerating what? Bayes factors and Bayes/Fisher Disagreement, Jeffreys-Lindley Paradox (Guest Speaker: Richard Morey on Bayes Factors)

Reading. Excursion 4 Tour II  and Excursion 6, Tour I: 395-423 
(We will spend 2 weeks on these: Excursion 6 Tour I will be post zoom.)
Redefine Statistical Significance” Benjamin et al. 2017. (PDF)

Session #10 Questions (PDF
Richard Morey’s slides (Link); (R. Morey blog post, which goes into more detail.)

Misc. Excursion 4 Tour II blurb & notes

11. 4/5

Mini essay

More on: Bayes factors and Bayes/Fisher Disagreement, Jeffreys-Lindley Paradox
Reading. Excursion 4 Tour II  and Excursion 6, Tour I: 395-423 (We are spending 2 weeks on these: Excursion 6 Tour I will be post zoom.)
Peek Ahead: 6.7 Farewell Keepsake: 436-444 
4/05/23 SLIDES (PDF)
Mini-essay (PDF)
12. 4/12

Biasing Selection Effects and Randomization
4/12/23 Slides (PDF)
Reading: Excursion 4 Tour III  
ASA Statement on P-values (link)
Optional: Mayo: P-values on Trial

13. 4/19


Power: Pre-data and Post-data

Reading: Excursion 5 Tour I

4/19/23 Slides (PDF)
Slides “Farewell Keepsake” (Sessions 14 & 15): (PDF)
Excursion 5 Tours I & II blurbs-notes

14. 4/26

Assign 3

Positive Predictive Value and Probabilistic Instantiation

Controversies about inferring probabilities from frequencies (in law and epistemology)

Reading: Tail end of Excursion 5 Tour I: Exhibit (v), Souvenir X: SIN and SIR; Excursion 5 Tour II: Section 5.6 (excursion 5 Tour II); Farewell Keepsake: (Section 6.7 in Excursion 6 Tour II)

 C. Howson “Error Probabilities in Error” (1997);
(2) Mayo “Response to Howson and Laudan'” (1997) [only the portion responding to Howson];

4/26/23/Slides (PDF

We won’t consider the following, but I leave it here in case anyone wants to look at it:Gardiner and Zaharatos (2022), “The Safe, the Sensitive, and the Severely Tested”

ASSIGNMENT 3 (due 4/26) (PDF)

15. 5/3

Review of the main themes of the seminar
Current Reforms and Stat Activism: Practicing our skills on some recent  papers

5/3/23 Slides (PDF)
Reading: 6.6 (pp 432-6) Error Statistical Bayesians; one of the following: (they can also be your “new” reading for the final paper (Excursion 6 Tour II)

Optional: Gardiner and Zaharatos (2022), “The Safe, the Sensitive, and the Severely Tested”

5/3/23 Slides (PDF)

Categories: Announcement, new course | 2 Comments

I’m teaching a New Intro to PhilStat Course Starting Wednesday:

Ship StatInfasst (Statistical Inference as Severe Testing: SIST) will set sail on Wednesday January 18 when I begin a weekly seminar on the Philosophy of Inductive-statistical inference. I’m planning to write a new edition and/or companion to SIST (Mayo 2018, CUP), so it will be good to retrace the journey. I’m not requiring a statistics or philosophy background. All materials will be on this blog, and around halfway through there may be an opportunity to zoom, if there’s interest. Continue reading

Categories: Announcement, new course | 2 Comments

The First 2023 Act of Stat Activist Watch: Statistics ‘for the people’

One of the central roles I proposed for “stat activists” (after our recent workshop, The Statistics Wars and Their Casualties) is to critically scrutinize mistaken claims about leading statistical methods–especially when such claims are put forward as permissible viewpoints to help “the people” assess methods in an unbiased manner. The first act of 2023 under this umbrella concerns an article put forward as “statistics for the people” in a journal of radiation oncology. We are talking here about recommendations for analyzing data for treating cancer!  Put forward as a fair-minded, or at least an informative, comparison of Bayesian vs frequentist methods, I find it to be little more than an advertisement for subjective Bayesian methods in favor of a caricature of frequentist error statistical methods. The journal’s “statistics for the people” section would benefit from a full-blown article on frequentist error statistical methods–not just the letter of ours they recently published–but I’m grateful to Chowdhry and other colleagues who joined me in this effort. You will find our letter below, followed by the authors’ response. You can also find a link to their original “statistics for the people” article in the references. Let me admit right off that my criticisms are a bit stronger than my co-authors. Continue reading

Categories: stat activist watch 2023, statistical significance tests | 2 Comments

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