Category Archives: General

The importance of statistical-savviness

Students often wonder why we in Psychology ask them to learn statistics. There are many good reasons, but today I just want to focus on one; surprisingly, this reason has nothing to do with Psychology. Having even just a smattering of statistical savviness can protect you from a lot of…well…bullshit. And trust me, there is a lot out there. Continue reading

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Taking Hope Out of the Equation

December marks the time of year where final year undergraduates at my institution present their proposed research programme via a conference poster. At their allotted time, two faculty members will visit the student’s poster, and ask the student to talk them through their planned project (just as if you were at a conference). After this 3-5 minute speech, the floor is open to the two faculty members to ask questions.

This is always an enjoyable assessment from the staff point of view (and even the students enjoy it!). However, this year I noticed a worrying trend from pretty much every student I spoke to. Continue reading

Replication: the most important statistic

Forget pretty much everything you have heard in statistics classes about using statistical inference to interpret whether an experimental effect is ‘real’ or not. Want to know if an effect is real? Replicate, replicate, replicate.

Only if an effect replicates—preferably in a different lab, by different researchers—can the scientific community start to believe that the effect is real.

Replication is thus the most important statistic. Period.

But, psychology as a discipline has notoriously eschewed publishing failed replication attempts. So it’s great to see that the topic of replicability in psychological science has been given center-stage in a special issue of the high-impact journal “Perspectives on Psychological Science”: http://pps.sagepub.com/content/7/6.toc?etoc

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There are many exciting articles in this special issue—not least an article that I contributed to with the Open Science Collaboration (http://pps.sagepub.com/content/7/6/657.full.pdf+html), which outlines the OSC’s project aiming to assess the proportion of studies in psychology that are replicable.

Given the importance of this issue to all psychologists (especially given the ‘year of horrors’ that faced psychology as a science last year – http://www.ejwagenmakers.com/2012/Wagenmakers2012Horrors.pdf) I hope all readers find this of interest.

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