Posts Tagged With: Tony O’Hagan

“Did Higgs Physicists Miss an Opportunity by Not Consulting More With Statisticians?”

On August 20 I posted the start of  “Discussion and Digest” by Bayesian statistician Tony O’Hagan– an oveview of  responses to his letter (ISBA website) on the use of p-values in analyzing the Higgs data, prompted, in turn, by a query of subjective Bayesian Dennis Lindley.  I now post the final section in which he discusses his own view. I think it raises many  questions of interest both as regards this case, and more generally about statistics and science. My initial July 11 post is here.

“Higgs Boson – Digest and Discussion” By Tony O’Hagan


So here are some of my own views on this.

There are good reasons for being cautious and demanding a very high standard of evidence before announcing something as momentous as H. It is acknowledged by those who use it that the 5-sigma standard is a fudge, though. They would surely be willing to make such an announcement if they were, for instance, 99.99% certain of H’s existence, as long as that 99.99% were rigorously justified. 5-sigma is used because they don’t feel able to quantify the probability of H rigorously. So they use the best statistical analysis that they know how to do, but because they also know there are numerous factors not taken into account by this analysis – the multiple testing, the likelihood of unrecognised or unquantified deficiencies in the data, experiment or statistics, and the possibility of other explanations – they ask for what on the face of it is an absurdly high level of significance from that analysis. Continue reading

Categories: philosophy of science, Philosophy of Statistics, Statistics | Tags: ,

Higgs Boson: Bayesian “Digest and Discussion”

Professor  O’Hagan sent around (to the ISBA list ) his summary of the comments he received in response to his request for information about the use of p-values in in relation to the Higgs boson data. My original July 11 post including O’Hagan’s initial letter is here.  His “digest” begins:

Before going further, I should say that the wording of this message, including the somewhat inflammatory nature of some parts of it, was mine; I was not quoting Dennis Lindley directly. The wording was, though, quite deliberately intended to provoke discussion. In that objective it was successful – I received more than 30 substantive comments in reply. All of these were thoughtful and I learnt a great deal from them. I promised to construct a digest of the discussion. This document is that digest and a bit more – it includes some personal reflections on the issues. Continue reading

Categories: Philosophy of Statistics, Statistics | Tags: , , ,

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