Graduate Research Seminar: Current Controversies in Phil Stat: LSE PH 500: 21 May – 18 June 2020


Ship StatInfasST will embark on a new journey from 21 May – 18 June, a graduate research seminar for the Philosophy, Logic & Scientific Method Department at the LSE, but given the pandemic has shut down cruise ships, it will remain at dock in the U.S. and use zoom. If you care to follow any of the 5 sessions, nearly all of the materials will be linked here collected from excerpts already on this blog. If you are interested in observing on zoom beginning 28 May, please follow the directions here

For the updated schedule, see the seminar web page.

Topic: Current Controversies in Phil Stat
(LSE, Remote 10am-12 EST, 15:00 – 17:00 London time; Thursdays 21 May-18 June)

Main Text SIST: Statistical Inference as Severe Testing: How to Get Beyond the Statistics Wars CUP, 2018):

I. (May 21)  Introduction: Controversies in Phil Stat:  

SIST: Preface, Excursion 1
Excursion 1 Tour I
Excursion 1 Tour II

Notes/Outline of Excursion 1
Postcard: Souvenir A

II. (May 28) N-P and Fisherian Tests, Severe Testing:

SIST: Excursion 3 Tour I (focus on pages up to p. 152)

Recommended: Excursion 2 Tour II pp. 92-100

Optional: I will (try to) answer questions on demarcation of science, induction, falsification, Popper from Excursion 2 Tour II

Handout: Areas Under the Standard Normal Curve

III. (June 4) Deeper Concepts: Confidence Intervals and Tests: Higgs’ Discovery:

SIST: Excursion 3 Tour III

Optional: I will answer questions on Excursion 3 Tour II: Howlers and Chestnuts of Tests 

IV. (June 11) Rejection Fallacies: Do P-values exaggerate evidence?
      Jeffreys-Lindley paradox or Bayes/Fisher disagreement:

SIST: Excursion 4 Tour II

           SIST: Excursion 4 Tour II

          Recommended (if time)Excursion 4 Tour I: The Myth of “The Myth of Objectivity” 

V. (June 18) The Statistics Wars and Their Casualties:

SIST: Excursion 4 Tour III: pp. 267-286; Farewell Keepsakepp. 436-444
-Amrhein, V., Greenland, S., & McShane, B., (2019). Comment: Retire Statistical Significance, Nature, 567: 305-308.
-Ioannidis J. (2019). “The Importance of Predefined Rules and Prespecified Statistical Analyses: Do Not Abandon Significance.” JAMA. 321(21): 2067–2068. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.4582
-Ioannidis, J. (2019). Correspondence: Retiring statistical significance would give bias a free pass. Nature, 567, 461.
-Mayo, DG. (2019), P‐value thresholds: Forfeit at your peril. Eur J Clin Invest, 49: e13170. doi: 10.1111/eci.13170


Information Items for SIST

-References: Captain’s Bibliography
-Summaries of 16 Tours (abstracts & keywords)
Excerpts & Mementos on Error Statistics Philosophy Blog (I will link to items from excerpted proofs for interested blog followers as we proceed)
Schaum’s Appendix 2Areas Under the Standard Normal Curve from 0-Z

DELAYED: JUNE 19-20 Workshop: The Statistics Wars and Their Casualties

Categories: Announcement, SIST | Leave a comment

My Phil Stat Events at LSE



I will run a graduate Research Seminar at the LSE on Thursdays from May 21-June 18:


(See my new blog for specifics (
I am co-running a workshop
from 19-20 June, 2020 at LSE (Center for the Philosophy of Natural and Social Sciences CPNSS), with Roman Frigg. Participants include:
Alexander Bird (King’s College London), Mark Burgman (Imperial College London), Daniele Fanelli (LSE), David Hand (Imperial College London), Christian Hennig (University of Bologna), Katrin Hohl (City University London), Daniël Lakens (Eindhoven University of Technology), Deborah Mayo (Virginia Tech), Richard Morey (Cardiff University), Stephen Senn (Edinburgh, Scotland).
If you have a particular Phil Stat event you’d like me to advertise, please send it to me.
Categories: Announcement, Philosophy of Statistics | Leave a comment

The First Eye-Opener: Error Probing Tools vs Logics of Evidence (Excursion 1 Tour II)

1.4, 1.5

In Tour II of this first Excursion of Statistical Inference as Severe Testing: How to Get Beyond the Statistics Wars (SIST, 2018, CUP),  I pull back the cover on disagreements between experts charged with restoring integrity to today’s statistical practice. Some advised me to wait until later (in the book) to get to this eye-opener. Granted, the full story involves some technical issues, but after many months, I think I arrived at a way to get to the heart of things informally (with a promise of more detailed retracing of steps later on). It was too important not to reveal right away that some of the most popular “reforms” fall down on the job even with respect to our most minimal principle of evidence (you don’t have evidence for a claim if little if anything has been done to probe the ways it can be flawed).  Continue reading

Categories: Error Statistics, law of likelihood, SIST | 14 Comments

Excursion 1 Tour II: Error Probing Tools versus Logics of Evidence-Excerpt


For the first time, I’m excerpting all of Excursion 1 Tour II from SIST (2018, CUP).

1.4 The Law of Likelihood and Error Statistics

If you want to understand what’s true about statistical inference, you should begin with what has long been a holy grail–to use probability to arrive at a type of logic of evidential support–and in the first instance you should look not at full-blown Bayesian probabilism, but at comparative accounts that sidestep prior probabilities in hypotheses. An intuitively plausible logic of comparative support was given by the philosopher Ian Hacking (1965)–the Law of Likelihood. Fortunately, the Museum of Statistics is organized by theme, and the Law of Likelihood and the related Likelihood Principle is a big one. Continue reading

Categories: Error Statistics, law of likelihood, SIST | 2 Comments

Summer Seminar in PhilStat: July 28-Aug 11

Please See New Information for Summer Seminar in PhilStat

Categories: Announcement, Summer Seminar in PhilStat | 1 Comment

Protected: Participants in 6334/6614 Meeting place Jan-Feb

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6334/6614: Captain’s Library: Biblio With Links

Mayo and A. Spanos
PHIL 6334/ ECON 6614: Spring 2019: Current Debates on Statistical Inference and Modeling

Bibliography (this includes a selection of articles with links; numbers 1-15 after the item refer to seminar meeting number.)

See Syllabus (first) for class meetings, and the page PhilStat19 menu up top for other course items.

Achinstein (2010). Mill’s Sins or Mayo’s Errors? (E&I: 170-188). (11)

Bacchus, Kyburg, & Thalos (1990). Against Conditionalization, Synthese (85): 475-506. (15)

Barnett (1999). Comparative Statistical Inference (Chapter 6: Bayesian Inference), John Wiley & Sons. (1), (15)

Begley & Ellis (2012) Raise standards for preclinical cancer research. Nature 483: 531-533. (10)

Continue reading

Categories: SIST | 1 Comment

New Course Starts Tomorrow: Current Debates on Statistical Inference and Modelings: Joint Phil and Econ

I will post items on a new PhilStat Spring 19 page on this blogI

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Mayo-Spanos Summer Seminar PhilStat: July 28-Aug 11, 2019: Instructions for Applying Now Available


See the Blog at SummerSeminarPhilStat

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

Summer Seminar PhilStat: July 28-Aug 11, 2019 (ii)

First draft of PhilStat Announcement


Categories: Announcement, Error Statistics | 5 Comments

The Meaning of My Title: Statistical Inference as Severe Testing: How to Get Beyond the Statistics Wars


Excerpts from the Preface:

The Statistics Wars: 

Today’s “statistics wars” are fascinating: They are at once ancient and up to the minute. They reflect disagreements on one of the deepest, oldest, philosophical questions: How do humans learn about the world despite threats of error due to incomplete and variable data? At the same time, they are the engine behind current controversies surrounding high-profile failures of replication in the social and biological sciences. How should the integrity of science be restored? Experts do not agree. This book pulls back the curtain on why. Continue reading

Categories: Announcement, SIST | 2 Comments

New Warning: Proceed With Caution Until the “Alt Stat Approaches” are Evaluated

I predicted that the degree of agreement behind the ASA’s “6 principles” on p-values , partial as it was,was unlikely to be replicated when it came to most of the “other approaches” with which some would supplement or replace significance tests– notably Bayesian updating, Bayes factors, or likelihood ratios (confidence intervals are dual to hypotheses tests). [My commentary is here.] So now they may be advising a “hold off” or “go slow” approach until some consilience is achieved. Is that it? There’s word that the ASA will  hold meeting where the other approaches are put through their paces. I don’t know when. I was tweeted an article about the background chatter taking place behind the scenes; I wasn’t one of people interviewed for this. Here are some excerpts, I may add more later after it has had time to sink in. 

“Restoring Credibility in Statistical Science: Proceed with Caution Until a Balanced Critique Is In”

J. Hossiason Continue reading

Categories: Announcement | 3 Comments

Cover/Itinerary of Statistical Inference as Severe Testing: How to Get Beyond the Statistics Wars

SNEAK PREVIEW: Here’s the cover of Statistical Inference as Severe Testing: How to Get Beyond the Statistics Wars:

It should be out in July 2018. The “Itinerary”, generally known as the Table of Contents, is below. I forgot to mention that this is not the actual pagination, I don’t have the page proofs yet. These are the pages of the draft I submitted. It should be around 50 pages shorter in the actual page proofs, maybe 380 pages.



Continue reading

Categories: Announcement | 10 Comments

Going round and round again: a roundtable on reproducibility & lowering p-values


There will be a roundtable on reproducibility Friday, October 27th (noon Eastern time), hosted by the International Methods Colloquium, on the reproducibility crisis in social sciences motivated by the paper, “Redefine statistical significance.” Recall, that was the paper written by a megateam of researchers as part of the movement to require p ≤ .005, based on appraising significance tests by a Bayes Factor analysis, with prior probabilities on a point null and a given alternative. It seems to me that if you’re prepared to scrutinize your frequentist (error statistical) method on grounds of Bayes Factors, then you must endorse using Bayes Factors (BFs) for inference to begin with. If you don’t endorse BFs–and, in particular, the BF required to get the disagreement with p-values–*, then it doesn’t make sense to appraise your non-Bayesian method on grounds of agreeing or disagreeing with BFs. For suppose you assess the recommended BFs from the perspective of an error statistical account–that is, one that checks how frequently the method would uncover or avoid the relevant mistaken inference.[i] Then, if you reach the stipulated BF level against a null hypothesis, you will find the situation is reversed, and the recommended BF exaggerates the evidence!  (In particular, with high probability, it gives an alternative H’ fairly high posterior probability, or comparatively higher probability, even though H’ is false.) Failing to reach the BF cut-off, by contrast, can find no evidence against, and even finds evidence for, a null hypothesis with high probability, even when non-trivial discrepancies exist. They’re measuring very different things, and it’s illicit to expect an agreement on numbers.[ii] We’ve discussed this quite a lot on this blog (2 are linked below [iii]).

If the given list of panelists is correct, it looks to be 4 against 1, but I’ve no doubt that Lakens can handle it.

Continue reading

Categories: Announcement, P-values, reforming the reformers, selection effects | 5 Comments

New venues for the statistics wars

I was part of something called “a brains blog roundtable” on the business of p-values earlier this week–I’m glad to see philosophers getting involved.

Next week I’ll be in a session that I think is intended to explain what’s right about P-values at an ASA Symposium on Statistical Inference : “A World Beyond p < .05”. Continue reading

Categories: Announcement, Bayesian/frequentist, P-values | 3 Comments

Professor Roberta Millstein, Distinguished Marjorie Grene speaker September 15



Virginia Tech Philosophy Department

2017 Distinguished Marjorie Grene Speaker


Professor Roberta L. Millstein

University of California, Davis

“Types of Experiments and Causal Process Tracing: What Happened on the Kaibab Plateau in the 1920s?”

September 15, 2017

320 Lavery Hall: 5:10-6:45pm



Continue reading

Categories: Announcement | 4 Comments

The Fourth Bayesian, Fiducial and Frequentist Workshop (BFF4): Harvard U


May 1-3, 2017
Hilles Event Hall, 59 Shepard St. MA

The Department of Statistics is pleased to announce the 4th Bayesian, Fiducial and Frequentist Workshop (BFF4), to be held on May 1-3, 2017 at Harvard University. The BFF workshop series celebrates foundational thinking in statistics and inference under uncertainty. The three-day event will present talks, discussions and panels that feature statisticians and philosophers whose research interests synergize at the interface of their respective disciplines. Confirmed featured speakers include Sir David Cox and Stephen Stigler.

The program will open with a featured talk by Art Dempster and discussion by Glenn Shafer. The featured banquet speaker will be Stephen Stigler. Confirmed speakers include:

Featured Speakers and DiscussantsArthur Dempster (Harvard); Cynthia Dwork (Harvard); Andrew Gelman (Columbia); Ned Hall (Harvard); Deborah Mayo (Virginia Tech); Nancy Reid (Toronto); Susanna Rinard (Harvard); Christian Robert (Paris-Dauphine/Warwick); Teddy Seidenfeld (CMU); Glenn Shafer (Rutgers); Stephen Senn (LIH); Stephen Stigler (Chicago); Sandy Zabell (Northwestern)

Invited Speakers and PanelistsJim Berger (Duke); Emery Brown (MIT/MGH); Larry Brown (Wharton); David Cox (Oxford; remote participation); Paul Edlefsen (Hutch); Don Fraser (Toronto); Ruobin Gong (Harvard); Jan Hannig (UNC); Alfred Hero (Michigan); Nils Hjort (Oslo); Pierre Jacob (Harvard); Keli Liu (Stanford); Regina Liu (Rutgers); Antonietta Mira (USI); Ryan Martin (NC State); Vijay Nair (Michigan); James Robins (Harvard); Daniel Roy (Toronto); Donald B. Rubin (Harvard); Peter XK Song (Michigan); Gunnar Taraldsen (NUST); Tyler VanderWeele (HSPH); Vladimir Vovk (London); Nanny Wermuth (Chalmers/Gutenberg); Min-ge Xie (Rutgers)

Continue reading

Categories: Announcement, Bayesian/frequentist | 2 Comments

Announcement: Columbia Workshop on Probability and Learning (April 8)

I’m speaking on “Probing with Severity” at the “Columbia Workshop on Probability and Learning” On April 8:

Meetings of the Formal Philosophy Group at Columbia

April 8, 2017

Department of Philosophy, Columbia University

Room 716
Philosophy Hall, 1150 Amsterdam Avenue
New York 10027
United States


  • The Formal Philosophy Group (Columbia)

Main speakers:

Gordon Belot (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)

Simon Huttegger (University of California, Irvine)

Deborah Mayo (Virginia Tech)

Teddy Seidenfeld (Carnegie Mellon University)


Michael Nielsen (Columbia University)

Rush Stewart (Columbia University)


Unfortunately, access to Philosophy Hall is by swipe access on the weekends. However, students and faculty will be entering and exiting the building throughout the day (with relateively high frequency since there is a popular cafe on the main floor).

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BOSTON COLLOQUIUM FOR PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE: Understanding Reproducibility & Error Correction in Science


57th Annual Program

Download the 57th Annual Program

The Alfred I. Taub forum:


Cosponsored by GMS and BU’s BEST at Boston University.
Friday, March 17, 2017
1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
The Terrace Lounge, George Sherman Union
775 Commonwealth Avenue

  • Reputation, Variation, &, Control: Historical Perspectives
    Jutta Schickore History and Philosophy of Science & Medicine, Indiana University, Bloomington.
  • Crisis in Science: Time for Reform?
    Arturo Casadevall Molecular Microbiology & Immunology, Johns Hopkins
  • Severe Testing: The Key to Error Correction
    Deborah Mayo Philosophy, Virginia Tech
  • Replicate That…. Maintaining a Healthy Failure Rate in Science
    Stuart Firestein Biological Sciences, Columbia



Categories: Announcement, Statistical fraudbusting, Statistics | Leave a comment

Winners of December Palindrome: Kyle Griffiths & Eileen Flanagan

Winners of the December 2016 Palindrome contest

Since both November and December had the contest word verifies/reverifies, the judges decided to give two prizes this month. Thank you both for participating!




Kyle Griffiths

Palindrome: Sleep, raw Elba, ere verified ire; Sir, rise, ride! If I revere able war peels.

The requirement: A palindrome using “verifies” (reverifies) or “verified” (reverified) and Elba, of course.

Statement: Here’s my December submission, hope you like it, it has a kind of revolutionary war theme. I have no particular history of palindrome-writing or contest-entering.  Instead, I found Mayo’s work via the recommendation of Jeremy Fox of Dynamic Ecology.  I am interested in her take on modern statistical practices in ecology, and generally in understanding what makes scientific methods robust and reliable.  I’m an outsider to philosophy and stats (I have an MS in Biology), so I appreciate the less-formal tone of the blog. I’m really looking forward to Mayo’s next book.

Book choice (out of 12 or more):  Principles of Applied Statistics (D. R. Cox and C. A. Donnelly 2011, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)

Bio: Part-time Biology Instructor, Scientific Aide for California Dept. of Fish & Wildlife. Interested in aquatic ecology, fish population dynamics.




Eileen Flanagan

Palindrome: Elba man, error reels inanities. I verified art I trade, if I revise it in an isle. Error renamable.

The requirement: A palindrome using “verifies” (reverifies) or “verified” (reverified) and Elba, of course.

Bio: Retired civil servant with a philosophy Ph.D; a bit camera shy so used a stand-in for my photo. 🙂

Statement: I found your blog searching for information on fraud in science a few years ago, and now that I am retired, I am enjoying twisting my mind around palindromes and other word games that I find on-line. 🙂

Book choice (out of 12 or more):  For my book, I would like a copy of Error and the Growth of Experimental Knowledge (D. G. Mayo, 1996, Chicago: Chicago University Press).



Some of Mayo’s attempts, posted through Nov-Dec:

Elba felt busy, reverifies use. I fire very subtle fable.

To I: disabled racecar ties. I verified or erode, if I revise it. Race card: Elba’s idiot.

Elba, I rave to men: “I felt busy!” Reverified, I hide, I fire very subtle fine mote variable.

I deified able deities. I verified a rap parade. If I revise, I tied. Elba deified I.

Categories: Announcement, Palindrome | Leave a comment

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