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Null hypothesis testing ≠ Scientific inference: A critique of the shaky premise at the heart of the science and values debate, and a defense of value‐neutral risk assessment

MacGillivray, Brian 2019. Null hypothesis testing ≠ Scientific inference: A critique of the shaky premise at the heart of the science and values debate, and a defense of value‐neutral risk assessment. Risk Analysis 10.1111/risa.13284

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Abstract

Many philosophers and statisticians argue that risk assessors are morally obligated to evaluate the probabilities and consequences of methodological error, and to base their decisions of whether to adopt a given parameter value, model, or hypothesis on those considerations. This argument is couched within the rubric of null hypothesis testing, which I suggest is a poor descriptive and normative model for risk assessment. Risk regulation is not primarily concerned with evaluating the probability of data conditional upon the null hypothesis, but rather with measuring risks, estimating the consequences of available courses of action and inaction, formally characterizing uncertainty, and deciding what to do based upon explicit values and decision criteria. In turn, I defend an ideal of value‐neutrality, whereby the core inferential tasks of risk assessment—such as weighing evidence, estimating parameters, and model selection—should be guided by the aim of correspondence to reality. This is not to say that value judgments be damned, but rather that they should be accounted for within a structured approach to decision analysis, rather than embedded within risk assessment in an informal manner.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: In Press
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
H Social Sciences > HA Statistics
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0272-4332
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 18 January 2019
Date of Acceptance: 10 December 2018
Last Modified: 05 Apr 2019 15:38
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/119452

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  • Null hypothesis testing ≠ Scientific inference: A critique of the shaky premise at the heart of the science and values debate, and a defense of value‐neutral risk assessment. (deposited 13 Feb 2019 10:30) [Currently Displayed]

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