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The Insignificance of Statistical Significance Testing


Editors of scientific journals, along with the referees they rely on, are really the arbiters of scientific practice. They need to understand how statistical methods can be used to reach sound conclusions from data that have been gathered. It is not sufficient to insist that authors use statistical methods—the methods must be appropriate to the application. The most common and flagrant misuse of statistics, in my view, is the testing of hypotheses, especially the vast majority of them known beforehand to be false.

With the hundreds of articles already published that decry the use of statistical hypothesis testing, I was somewhat hesitant about writing another. It contains nothing new. But still, reading The Journal of Wildlife Management makes me realize that the message has not really reached the audience of wildlife biologists. Our work is important, so we should use the best tools we have available. Rarely, however, is that tool statistical hypothesis testing.

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