What if academics were as dumb as quacks with statistics?
Ben Goldacre introduces a statistical error that appears in about half of all the published papers in academic neuroscience research.Key Concepts addressed:
Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 10th September 2011
We all like to laugh at quacks when they misuse basic statistics. But what if academics, en masse, deploy errors that are equally foolish? This week Sander Nieuwenhuis and colleagues publish a mighty torpedo in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
They’ve identified one direct, stark statistical error that is so widespread it appears in about half of all the published papers surveyed from the academic neuroscience research literature.
To understand the scale of this problem, first we have to understand the statistical error they’ve identified. This is slightly difficult, and it will take 400 words of pain. At the end, you will understand an important aspect of statistics better than half the professional university academics currently publishing in the field of neuroscience.