in THEORIA 74 (2012): 245-247,
Deborah G. Mayo and Aris Spanos, eds. 2009. Error and Inference. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Error and Inference focuses on the error-statistical philosophy of science (ESP) put forward by Deborah Mayo and Aris Spanos (MS). Chapters 1, 6 and 7 are mainly written by MS (partly with the statistician David Cox), whereas Chapters 2-5, 8, and 9 are driven by the contributions of other authors. There are responses to all these contributions at the end of the chapters, usually written by Mayo.
The structure of the book with the responses at the end of each chapter is a striking feature. The critical contributions enable a very lively discussion of ESP. On the other hand always having the last word puts Mayo and Spanos in a quite advantageous position. Some of the contributors may have underestimated Mayo’s ability to make the most of this advantage.
Central to ESP are the issues of probing scientific theories objectively by data, and Mayo’s concept of “severe testing” (ST). ST is based on a frequentist interpretation of probability, on conventional hypothesis testing and the associated error probabilities. ESP advertises a “piecemeal” approach to testing a scientific theory, in which various different aspects, which can be used to make predictions about data, are subjected to hypothesis tests. A statistical problem with such an approach is that failure of rejection of a null hypothesis H0 does not necessarily constitute evidence in favour of H0. The space of probability models is so rich that it is impossible to rule out all other probability models.
Posts Tagged With: Error and Inference book review
I am guilty of not having provided the detailed responses that are owed to the several entries in Christian Robert’s blog on Mayo and Spanos (eds.), ERROR AND INFERENCE: Recent Exchanges on Experimental Reasoning Reliability, and the Objectivity and Rationality of Science (E.R.R.O.R.S.) (2010, CUP). Today, I couldn’t resist writing a (third) follow-up comment having to do with my argument on the (strong) Likelihood Principle, even though I wasn’t planning to jump into that issue on this blog just yet. Having been lured to react, and even sketch the argument, I direct interested readers to his blog:
As you can guess, hard copies of our book play a useful role in propping open doors to breeze through marble floors in a wheelchair! Since I’m nearly free of it (thanks to the ministrations of the recovery team here at Chatfield Chateau), a picture seemed in order!
For an interesting, longish review of the book that I just encountered by Adam La Caze (Note Dame Philosophical Reviews) see: http://ndpr.nd.edu/news/24435-error-and-inference-recent-exchanges-on-experimental-reasoning-reliability-and-the-objectivity-and-rationality-of-science/