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Beware The P-Value

Part of the mission of SBM is to continually prod discussion and examination of the relationship between science and medicine, with special attention on those beliefs and movements within medicine that we feel run counter to science and good medical practice. Chief among them is so-called complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) – although proponents are constantly tweaking the branding, for convenience I will simply refer to it as CAM.

Within academia I have found that CAM is promoted largely below the radar, with the deliberate absence of public debate and discussion. I have been told this directly, and that the reason is to avoid controversy. This stance assumes that CAM is a good thing and that any controversy would be unjustified, perhaps the result of bigotry rather than reason. It’s sad to see how successful this campaign has been, even among my fellow academics and scientists who should know better.

The reality is that CAM is fatally flawed in both philosophy and practice, and the claims of CAM proponents wither under direct light. I take some small solace in the observation that CAM is starting to be the victim of its own success – growing awareness of CAM is shedding some inevitable light on what it actually is. Further, because CAM proponents are constantly trying to bend and even break the rules of science, this forces a close examination of what those rules should actually be, how they work, and their strengths and weaknesses.

This brings me to the specific topic of this article – the dreaded p-value. The p-value is a frequentist statistical measure of the data of a study. Unfortunately it has come to be looked at (by non-statisticians) as the one measure of whether or not the phenomenon being studied is likely to be real, even though that is not what it is and is never what it was meant to be.

As an aside, this trend was likely driven by the need for simplicity. People want there to be one simple bottom line to a study, so they treat the p-value that way. It’s like evaluating the power of a computer system solely by its clock speed, one number, rather than considering all the components.

A recent paper by Pandolfi and Carreras nicely deconstructs the myth of the p-value and show how p-value abuse is especially problematic within the world of CAM (thanks to Mark Crislip for bringing this paper to my attention) – “The faulty statistics of complementary alternative medicine (CAM)“.

For background, the p-value is the probability that the data in an experiment would demonstrate as much or more of a difference between the intervention and control give the null hypothesis. In clinical studies we can rephrase this to: what is the probability that the treatment group would be as different from the control group or more assuming the treatment has no actual effect? Many people, however, misinterpret the p-value as meaning – what is the probability that the treatment works.

Pandolfi and Carreras correctly point out that this is committing a formal logical fallacy, the fallacy of the transposed conditional. To illustrate this they give an excellent example. The probability of having red spots in a patient with measles is not the same as the probability of measles in someone who has red spots.

In other words, the p-value tells us the probability of the data given the null hypothesis, but what we really want to know is the probability of the hypothesis given the data. We can’t reverse the logic of p-values simply because we want to.

No worries – Bayes Theorem comes to the rescue. This is precisely why we at SBM have largely advocated taking a Bayesian approach to scientific questions. A Bayesian approach is ironically how people generally operate. We have prior beliefs about the world, and we update those beliefs as new information comes in (unless, of course, we have an emotional attachment to those prior beliefs, but that’s another article).

In science the logic of the Bayesian analysis is essentially: establish a prior probability for the hypothesis, then look at the new data and calculate how that new data affects the prior probability, giving a post probability.

Pandolfi and Carreras point out that, ironically, this is how doctors function in everyday clinical thinking. When we see a patient we determine the differential diagnosis, a list of possible diagnoses from most likely to least likely. When we order a diagnostic test for a specific diagnosis on the list, we first consider the pre-test probability of the diagnosis. This is based upon the prevalence of the disease and how closely the patient matches the demographics, signs, and symptoms of that disease. We then apply a diagnostic test that has a certain specificity and sensitivity, and based on the results we determine the posterior probability of the diagnosis.

Therefore, the pre-test probability is essential to determining the likelihood that a diagnostic test is either a false positive vs a true positive, or a false negative vs a true negative. You can’t properly interpret the results of the test without knowing the pre-test probability.

Ironically, this logic is abandoned when evaluating scientific research. In fact, the main flaw in the way evidence-based medicine is applied is that it ignores the pre-test probability, and relies heavily on an indirect measure (the p-value) in isolation to interpret test results. If applied to clinical medicine, such a process would constitute gross malpractice.

To drive this point home a little further, using a p-value in isolation in a clinical study to determine if the phenomenon under study is real is like using a non-specific diagnostic test to determine that a patient has a very rare disease, ignoring predictive value and the possibility of a false positive test. As experienced clinicians understand, if a disease is truly rare, then even a reasonably specific test is far more likely to generate a false positive than a true positive.

The analogy here is this – when studying a phenomenon that is unlikely, a significant p-value is far more likely to be a false positive than a true positive. This is why p-values are especially problematic when applied to CAM.

CAM modalities are alternative largely because they did not emerge from mainstream scientific thinking. In many cases, the claims made are incompatible with modern science. Homeopathy, for example, would require rewriting the physics, chemistry, physiology, and biology textbooks to a significant degree. Apparently violating basic laws of science at the very least renders a hypothesis equivalent to a rare disease – having a low prior probability. Therefore, even with an impressive looking p-value of 0.01, the probability could still be overwhelming that the phenomenon being tested is not real and the outcome is a false positive.

Conclusion

The Pandolfi and Carreras paper nicely illustrates one of the core principles of science-based medicine – putting the science back into medicine. Evidence is not enough, we also have to put that evidence into the context of our basic scientific understanding of the world, expressed as a prior probability. It may not be possible to have a rigorous quantitative expression of that prior probability, but we can at least use representative figures.

For example, Pandolfi and Carreras use a prior odds of 9:1 against to represent the skeptical position. This is being generous, in my opinion, as I would give odds of 999:1 at least for claims such as homeopathy. But even using the highly conservative odds of 9:1, even a p-value of 0.01 does not favor the phenomenon being real, but rather the null hypothesis.

The two take-home messages here are these: Don’t rely on p-values as the sole measure of a study’s outcome. Favor, rather, a Bayesian analysis. Even in the absence of a formal Bayesian analysis, an informal Bayesian approach will help put the study results into context.

Second – we should probably raise the bar for statistical significant. A p-value of 0.05 is not as impressive as most people might think. Mark suggested we set the bar at 0.001 as a first approximation, and then we go down from there based upon prior probability.

Doing this will work massively against the interests of CAM, because of their low prior probability. But this is in the interests of good medicine.

Posted in: Clinical Trials

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175 thoughts on “Beware The P-Value

  1. Cervantes says:

    Sure. A difficulty is that some research — much research really — is largely exploratory. We may have a hypothesis, but we can’t confidently assign a quantitative prior probability to it. In this situation it doesn’t constitute an error to report a p value (and preferably confidence intervals as well), what constitutes an error is to infer from this that the hypothesis is 95% or more likely to be true, especially given all of the pitfalls of bias that are very hard to purge from even the most diligent inquiry. What you should infer is that the hypothesis remains promising and you can now assign a higher prior probability to it. That means, somebody else needs to replicate the investigation and see if the results are confirmed. Unfortunately, there is a bias against replicative studies among editors — “innovative” results are more exciting and more likely to find their way into high impact journals. I could go on but there are extensive discussions of this problem of course. It’s not that frequentist statistics are “wrong,” it’s that people misapply and misinterpret them.

  2. BobbyGvegas says:

    A computed p-value is itself an estimate, one with a distribution just like any distribution of empirical data. A point also lost on too many people. To say that “the probability is” oversimplifies things.

  3. StatGuy says:

    As a statistics student, I love this post. While I would say that frequentist statistics have their place, a Bayesian approach is almost always more reliable. A word of caution on your second to last paragraph. I think the very idea of a p-value cut off is problematic. P-values tell you nothing about the alternative hypothesis, as it never takes that into account. An acceptable p-value really depends on the power of the test. If the alternative is thought to produce results only slightly than the null, a p-value of .1 may provide enough evidence to carry out a larger study with more power. However, if the alternative is thought to produce results much different than the null, a p-value of .01 may not be noteworthy. I think the real danger is using p-values as a ‘black box’ technique.

    Reporting p-values isn’t that helpful, confidence intervals are usually much more telling, but they are often overlooked for the p-value. On the other hand, when a power analysis is combined with a p-value, the two pieces of information work together extremely well to tell a much broader story from the data.

    1. Bill says:

      “P-values tell you nothing about the alternative hypothesis, as it never takes that into account.” This is fundamentally wrong. The p-value is derived from the test statistic. The test statistic is based on the hypothesis in question. This is why a two-tailed test is different from a one-tailed test, for example.

      I’d agree that power and confidence intervals (or credible intervals for Bayesian results) are also useful concepts and should be employed more often, however, all statistics are dependent on, or conditional to, their underlying assumptions. Interpreting any of these statistical metrics without considering the nature and appropriateness of those assumptions is simply flying blind. Bayesian methodologies are no exception here, although they do have the advantage of forcing the analyst to state their assumptions up front. Power computations are especially fraught with such assumptions, as they are tied to specific hypotheses, statistical models, point estimates for relevant parameters, and underlying error distributions. Many times we must simply guess what one or more of these parts should be. All statistics must be treated we care and interpreted in light of the background used in their development.

      1. StatGuy says:

        Let’s say that you’re measuring weight differences between two populations. The null is that they are within 3% of each other, your alternative is that one group is at least 10% heavier. You observe your data and calculate your p-value. Another researcher starts with the same null but an alternative that one group is at least 20% heavier; he or she observes the same data; he or she comes up with the same p-value as you did. I hope that you are not implying that the only alternative hypotheses that can be (and are) used are simply greater than, less than, or not equal to a single value given to the null. Only the distribution under the null as well as the data observed are taken into account when dealing with a p-value. A p-value does not tell you anything about the alternative distribution, only how unlikely the observations would be under the null hypothesis.

        All statistics must be treated with care, this is true. However, they can also be enormously powerful when those performing the analysis understand what they are doing. Today, society expects almost all experts, no matter what field they are in, to understand statistics and randomness. As such, society tends to trust the statistical analyses of those people who do not fully understand the underlying features. I fear that the way in which you view some of the assumptions statistical methods make may be overblown. Yes, there are assumptions, but as long as the statistician takes care to examine the data thoroughly, these assumptions are not unreasonable.

    2. BobbyGvegas says:

      In my world (retired risk analyst), no one uses sophomoric academic p-value cutoffs. You compute the range of stress-tested “expected value” estimates (p x payoff or payout). You have to be able to assess your likely wins or losses. Anything less is a waste of time.

      And, you can color me utterly Bayesian (not to mention a “Chebyshev-ista”). Base rates and distribution characteristics matter fundamentally.

      1. BobbyGvegas says:

        Color me “Talebist” as well.

      2. StatGuy says:

        I am on your side. I do not think that there is any logical basis for having any type of p-value cut-off. I must say, I’m a bit confused by your comment. Were you just agreeing with the general sentiment I had stated or were you trying to challenge part of my comment (which I openly welcome).

        1. BobbyGvegas says:

          No, agreeing with you. Sorry for the ambiguity.

          When I hear people ask “what IS the probability?” my eyes roll.

          Expected value is everything (and “expected” means “estimated”).

          Re: Bayes, you might find this old rant of mine interesting: http://bgladd.com/Total_Information_Awareness

          ;)

          1. embeetee says:

            Interesting reading, will certainly get me reading more about statistics (don’t worry, I absolutely get your main point!). And given that it was web-published so long ago, I forgive you the font and page design ;-)

        2. Jay says:

          I do not think that there is any logical basis for having any type of p-value cut-off.

          There is a logical basis in decision theory, the framework of Neyman-Pearson hypothesis testing, in which you thoughtfully choose the cutoff based on the relative costs of Type I and Type II errors. But that’s about it.

  4. G. Shelley says:

    I’ve argued this on various homeopathy threads in the past. People will say “I had condition X, I took homeopathy and got better, therefore homeopathy cured me as I was unlikely to get better on my own”
    Often, they don’t even get to the p-value stage (ie, they don’t calculate the probability of spontaneous remission with their condition), but even if they do, they then fail to take into account all the previous evidence that homeopathy doesn’t work – even if the condition hardly ever resolves on its own, say 1 in 1000 people, this would still be far more likely an explanation than homeopathy, which based on multiple clinical trials and all we know of molecular biology, cell biology, physics and chemistry must have a prior probability of millions to one against, at the least.
    I don’t think I ever managed to convince anyone.

  5. Mignone says:

    Any statistical significance obtained in this field should be considered with great caution and may be better applied to more plausible hypotheses (like placebo effect) than that examined — which usually is the specific efficacy of the intervention.

    Regardless of the significance, or the probability, there also seems to be a greater issue of the designs not testing the hypotheses.

  6. Angora Rabbit says:

    “We may have a hypothesis, but we can’t confidently assign a quantitative prior probability to it.”

    I totally agree. As researchers, one way we address it is to consider the experimental design and experimental format. One develops a sense of typical variance for one’s experimental system, whether it is mice sharing the same genetic background, free range humans, or a microarray. That can help guide our interpretation of statistical outcomes, and at the same time aim for greater power in the analysis. This is where human studies with 15-20 subjects make my skin crawl. Those are circumstances wherein results must be interpreted cautiously until the much larger analysis with greater power is performed. Unfortunately, a lot of CAM, nutritional supplement, and sports performance studies fall into this trap; there is seldom follow-through to a much larger and more representative population (than male undergrads). This is often why, when the study is expanded to hundreds or thousands, the effect goes away – it wasn’t real in the first place thanks to an underpowered study. (Take careful note of this, $tan).

    Another example is in high-throughput transcriptome analysis, where the simple comparison of Treatment vs. Control easily generates 200-250 million reads per sample. Lots of false differences there! In those studies we only focus on the post-corrected data, and even after don’t get excited until p values approach 1E-4 and again put more weight upon pathway analysis (which will have multiple inputs) than in a single gene even at 1E-10.

    There’s a movement to replace significance at 0.05 with 0.01. I’m not in favor because of the issues above. And importantly, this is just a bandaid that doesn’t solve the underlying problem that authors, reviewers, and editors must take individual responsibility for assuring that statistical approaches are correctly applied and interpreted.

    1. JD says:

      I’m not in favor because of the issues above. And importantly, this is just a bandaid that doesn’t solve the underlying problem that authors, reviewers, and editors must take individual responsibility for assuring that statistical approaches are correctly applied and interpreted.

      This is an excellent point. Someone pointed out to me that the easiest thing to do is to critique a study and identify potential flaws. It is much more difficult to identify strengths and understand what a particular study provides in context. This is the approach I utilize when reviewing. The unfortunate truth is that beyond heavily scrutinizing the methods section and posing questions to the authors, there isn’t much I can do to guarantee that the more nuanced aspects of the analysis were done right (sometimes the data is requested and the results verified independently, but most of the time not). There has to be a good faith effort on the author’s/statistician’s end to get the details, particularly the programming, correct. This is something I feel is absent in most of the CAM studies I read, where rudimentary understanding and under-developed methodology seems to suffice for true believers when the results support CAM.

      There’s a movement to replace significance at 0.05 with 0.01.

      I remember a classmate being chastised for always asking for an alpha when providing interpretations, with the professor yelling that you pretty much never need a damned alpha. Recognizing the importance it plays in RCTs or genetics, the epidemiologist in me agrees with this idea of doing away with the cutoff completely.

  7. Harriet Hall says:

    Even in mainstream medicine, statistical significance doesn’t mean clinical significance. A treatment might be significantly better at lowering BP by a few mm, but it might not reduce the likelihood of a stroke. We can ask if the study results are a POEM: Patient-Oriented Evidence that Matters.

    1. KayMarie says:

      The use of surrogate endpoints is always a problem. Just because you lowered blood pressure by any means necessary doesn’t mean you also lowered the risk from hypertension.

      That is always the hard part of trying to get innovative treatments into the clinic in a timely fashion. The surrogate endpoints are great for rapidly moving a treatment through the process when it is something you can see the difference in a couple of weeks of study. Does it significantly change the rate of death or disability in a population over 20-30 years? For most things we don’t know. What is the balance point between harm from failure to act vs harm from acting too quickly?

      If you push a treatment to market too quickly you get in trouble when you have to remove a few of them. Yet politically we seem to want our innovation and we want it now with no patience for doing the careful work that may be needed to really know the full story of the treatment and its outcomes.

    2. Angora Rabbit says:

      I totally agree with Dr. Hall and not just for clinical studies. So many times I review papers or proposals where their favorite transcript or protein is significantly decreased. The authors then go on to spin a lovely bedtime story about its impact without ever considering or testing if the change is biologically relevant. Drives me frackin’ wild.

  8. whoa says:

    This post is deceptively confusing. It seems to be primarily an excuse for rejecting evidence that conflict with anti-CAM preconceptions.

    First of all, p values were never meant to be taken in isolation. No researcher should ever reject the null hypothesis based on one study with one p value. All research must be replicated by separate labs before it can be taken seriously.

    If a study gets p < .05 and claims victory for CAM, of course you can argue against it. The only way to resolve these argumets is replication and meta-analysis. Even then, the debate is likely to contniue because studies must be selected and rated for meta-analysis, and you can always disagree with the selection and rating methods.

    The article is very misleading, as it seems to claim that CAM researchers are allowed to accept results based on a p value, without replication or meta-analysis.

    Also, the meaning of p values is not explained clearly. If a p value is very small, the difference between groups was probably not due to chance — ok. But the author says you can't reverse that and say the difference between groups was probably because of the treatment. However, to some cautious extent you can.

    If the researchers were very careful to eliminate confounds, and the p value is very mall, then yes there is a pretty good chance the difference was because of the treatment. It still could have resulted from random variance, but it probably did not.

    And, again, the research must be replicated before it can be taken seriously or accepted as a real effect.

    P values are, of course, all about probabiliity, not certainty. Yes prior probability should be considered — but NOT for philosophical reasons. If a thousand previous studies were negative, and only one is positive then of course the prior probability matters.

    But if it's just your personal feelings and philosophy that makes you deny CAM research, then that has no relevance at all and should never be considered in evaluating evidence.

    It would be absolutely wrong and unscientific to calculate p values differently depending on your preconceptions and prejudices.

    1. rork says:

      “then yes there is a pretty good chance” – to compute that chance, I think you’ll find you need a prior, unless you have invented a new way to do it.

    2. Harriet Hall says:

      “The article is very misleading, as it seems to claim that CAM researchers are allowed to accept results based on a p value, without replication or meta-analysis.”

      It’s not that they “are allowed,” and there is no authority that could do the “allowing.” It’s that the track record shows that CAM proponents have a double standard. They routinely DO accept substandard evidence that supports their beliefs. They would scream bloody murder if a Big Pharma company relied on that kind of evidence to market a prescription drug.

    3. Jay says:

      You wrote:

      Also, the meaning of p values is not explained clearly.

      Actually, the meaning of “p-value” was explained very clearly:

      [T]he p-value is the probability that the data in an experiment would demonstrate as much or more of a difference between the intervention and control give[n] the null hypothesis.

      That’s essentially a textbook definition of p-value applied to clinical research.

      If a p value is very small, the difference between groups was probably not due to chance

      That simply is not true. The probability that an observed difference is due to chance depends on both the size of the observed difference and the prior probability of the null hypothesis. If the prior probability of the null is enormously high (as it is for any homeopathy trial), then no matter how small the p-value, or how large the observed treatment difference, the finding is almost certainly spurious: either due to chance or systematic error. And as to systematic error…

      If the researchers were very careful to eliminate confounds, and the p value is very mall, then yes there is a pretty good chance the difference was because of the treatment. It still could have resulted from random variance, but it probably did not.

      Again, simply not true. Even if we could rule out systematic error completely, if the prior probability of the research hypothesis is infinitesimally small then no matter how small the p-value, the observed treatment difference is due to chance with extremely high probability. Given what we know about molecules, the probability that a substance that has been infinitely (for all practical purposes) diluted out of a solution can have any residual physical effect on the solution (beyond, like, femtoseconds), much less cure any disease, is essentially nil. Steve’s stated chance of one-in-a-thousand is an overestimate by several orders of magnitude at least.

      1. CrankyEpi says:

        I realize that I’ve joined too late for anyone to read this but feel compelled to write anyway. Please recall that the p-value is related to the test statistic, not directly (or exclusively) to the “difference between groups.” That is, the p-value is addressing the question, “Given that the null hypothesis is true, what is the probability that the value of the test statistic would be as extreme or more extreme than the figure obtained?” There are additional factors that influence the value of the test statistic, such as the inherent variability in the data, the numbers of the subjects studied.

        I’m going from memory here, but Sir Ronald Fisher, who derived the p-value, never meant for there to be “p-value cutoffs” to decide whether a difference was random or not. He meant it as a measure of the strength of the evidence against the null hypothesis. Karl Pearson was the one who developed the idea of the “p-value cutoff,” so that people could make decisions based on the statistical test results. I think Fisher was pretty mad about this.

    4. MadisonMD says:

      I’d like Whoa to provide an example of CAM validated by replicated studies with very small p values and confounders eliminated.

      Show it, Whoa, and it will overcome the very low prior plausibility.

      1. Jay says:

        Be careful what you ask for. Would the existence of such studies really overcome the low prior probability?

        1. MadisonMD says:

          Maybe. It depends on the Bayesian posterior.

          1. Jay says:

            That’s kinda’ begging the question. More importantly, the existence of a set of confirming studies with low p-values would not preclude the existence of published or unpublished non-confirming, or disconfirming, studies.

            1. MadisonMD says:

              Well that is true for all of medicine. Hence clinical trials are now registered. The distinction with CAM is that prior plausibility is low. Hence the evidence for CAM needs to be stronger than for an intervention with high prior plausibility. If a CAM apologist provides such evidence as Whoa claims then I would accept it. That evidence would need to be far more convincing for say homeopathy than for effectiveness of green tea. Hence I could only evaluate the credibility if I know both prior and evidence. The most succinct way to explain that is it requires good posterior probability in the Bayesian framework.

            2. MadisonMD says:

              Of course Whoa is not allowed to cherrypick.

            3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

              Such a study on a topic with very low prior probability would at minimum require replication (because it’s essentially hypothesizing a hitherto-unknown mechanism by which a CAM intervention could be effective), and a much more careful scrutiny of the control procedures used. Dr. Novella frequently discusses the reduction in strength of results for CAM trials as the control increases; at minimum one would want to see that this pattern is bucked by the intervention, and at that point one can begin to ask serious questions about whether the effect is real and what the mechanism could be.

        2. Sawyer says:

          Yes, in principle it would. The key phrase is “confounders eliminated”. Not just dealt with, or reduced, but eliminated. This is incredibly rare in the world of CAM. Heck, it’s probably pretty rare in the world of real medicine too, but at least scientists are steadily pushing us in the right direction.

          I’ve also found that when you ask people engaged in real scientific research how to improve the quality of their work they will instantly give you a laundry list of approaches they are willing to try. Sometimes money is a limiting factor, sometimes it’s time, occasionally politics, but rarely is it a complete ignorance of basic methodology. Not so with CAM. I think most of the so-called improvements in their research are nothing more than window dressing, and they really don’t even understand how and why to continuously raise the standards of evidence.

  9. Carpus says:

    A lovely and succinct explanation of what the p-value is. I teach some epidemiology to medical students/trainees and it’s always a struggle to make them understand what the p-value represents. Partly this is because it’s not generally taught well and is very poorly understood by most (including me – it’s taken me a long time to wrap my head around the concept, and I’m still not always sure I have). When I try to explain what it really is, I usually end up with blank stares. Next time I’m trying to teach people about it, I’ll direct them to this post.

  10. Tom .) S says:

    There is a whole litany of problems with the p-value, one of which I believe has not been mentioned in this thread. Any clinical trial tests lot of hypotheses. For any hypothesis which does not achieve statistical significance (except perhaps the primary objective), we tend to think of the difference between treatment and control as zero. We do this even though the ONLY evidence of zero is that we chose it as our hypothesis, not a very strong reason to believe it!

    I think we need to look at the observed difference between treatment and control and use that as our new estimate of the treatment difference. (Even better , use a prior to compute a posterior, etc.) If the observed difference is too small to be of importance, that’s fine, but it’s not zero.

  11. Tom S says:

    Wow how did I type my name so incorrectly??

    Tom S

  12. rork says:

    “a significant p-value is far more likely to be a false positive than a true positive” is part of the problem. The p-value is a probability, not a prediction, and by itself can’t be false or true. To predict, we need posteriors, and so we need a (subjective) prior, as noted. But when taking actions (like docs do) we also need a decision space and a (subjective) loss function. Bayes theory does not supply that last part. We all want to maximize the subjective expected utility, right?
    I think giving the p-value and the effect sizes is an acceptable summary of data from an experiment. Reader was supposed to be supplying the prior was the idea, trying to supply it for them was considered unscientific, not objective (hey, it’s subjective). Note to reviewers: only saying that p was smaller than some cutoff is not acceptable, but is not rare in molecular biology. Make it become unthinkable, like it used to be.

  13. whoa says:

    [It’s not that they “are allowed,” and there is no authority that could do the “allowing.” It’s that the track record shows that CAM proponents have a double standard. They routinely DO accept substandard evidence that supports their beliefs. They would scream bloody murder if a Big Pharma company relied on that kind of evidence to market a prescription drug.]

    Ok Harriet, we don’t have to use the word “allow.” How about “get away with” instead?

    And I think you are very biased if you think CAM research is routinely worse than Big Pharma research. There is plenty of bad research on all sides.

    1. Andrey Pavlov says:

      And I think you are very biased if you think CAM research is routinely worse than Big Pharma research. There is plenty of bad research on all sides.

      As Dr. Hall said, it is indeed demonstrably “worse” on the CAM side of things. This whole blog is one giant testament to that. Take a look at meta-analyses and Cochrane reviews on CAM and see how many of them basically say “No high quality evidence, more research needed.” Or “A paucity of high quality evidence, with some indication of [small narrow benefit here], more research needed.” And compare that with the same for pharmaceuticals and other science based therapeutic modalities. No doubt that there is bad research everywhere. And we here call it out when it comes across the radar. But the point is that not only is there a lot of very bad research in CAM, there simply isn’t much good research in it as well. And yet it still gets used, it still gets “integrated” into places like the Cleveland Clinic, and it still gets foisted on cancer patients at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

      It’s not bias. It is merely a statement of fact to say that CAM as a category is non-sensical and unscientific and research labeled “CAM” has a very high prior probability of being crappy. Much higher than medical research not considered “CAM.”

    2. Harriet Hall says:

      Not bias, observation. Big Pharma can’t “get away” with poor quality uncontrolled studies when it comes to getting FDA approval for marketing. CAM routinely treats patients when there are only preclinical studies, uncontrolled studies, or sometimes nothing but anecdotes.

      1. Frederick says:

        that’s so true, not only do CAMs can get away with poor studies, they don’t even have to do one… self-regulation, is as good as the porn website analogy of John Oliver.

    3. Windriven says:

      “And I think you are very biased if you think CAM research is routinely worse than Big Pharma research. There is plenty of bad research on all sides.”

      While bad research can certainly be found in the body of Big Pharma research, finding good research in the body of sCAM research is a truly difficult undertaking.

      It isn’t just that sCAM research is routinely worse than real medical research, sCAM research is generally worse than body odor at a Bickram yoga center.

  14. Robin says:

    I found this helpful in understanding some of the issues
    http://www.dcscience.net/?p=6518

  15. whoa says:

    “Big Pharma can’t “get away” with poor quality uncontrolled studies when it comes to getting FDA approval for marketing.”

    You are extremely naïve and/or brainwashed.

    1. Harriet Hall says:

      OK so educate me. Give me an example of a prescription drug that was approved by the FDA on the basis of poor quality studies with no control groups.

      1. Bruce says:

        Just popped in to see if Whoa had actually come up with anything.

        Perhaps they have been busy this week.

    2. Windriven says:

      @whoa

      “You are extremely naïve and/or brainwashed.”

      And you are talking out of your ass. Read Hall’s words carefully, then show us some meaningful citations supporting your allegations. Or you could simply apologize now and save yourself the embarrassment.

    3. Andrey Pavlov says:

      I predict that whoa’s point will somehow hinge on Goldacre’s Bad Pharma. He is saying that there are drugs out there that, when the totality of data is taken into account that shouldn’t be out there.

      But what Dr. Hall is saying is that while this may be true, it is irrelevant to the point that there are still rigorously done studies in existence to bolster the claim. The same cannot be said for CAM. They are nearly universally of poor quality on an individual basis. Those that are of higher quality show nothing there.

      1. Windriven says:

        Dr. Hall’s inclusion of the word ‘uncontrolled’ is what I am prepared to hang whoa with.

  16. GeoffreyCharles says:

    Dr. Novella and readers,

    There’s sir interesting discussion and critique going on about this blog post over at r/statistics: http://www.reddit.com/r/statistics/comments/29nmys/beware_the_pvalue_science_based_medicine/

    It would be great to hear some responses there. Or here in another post, perhaps.

    1. Andrey Pavlov says:

      Thanks. I took a moment to reply to the top comment here

      1. rork says:

        You were good.
        Top commenter seems to think that considering ones prior when evaluating evidence, suddenly means researchers publishing papers can demand that reader accept the prior that the researcher specifies. That’s absurd. Reader has their own prior.

        1. phayes says:

          Quite. An ignorant, fallacy-filled comment by someone who is pretty clearly a frequentist extremist. Here’s Kruschke’s response to yet another instance of that “arbitrary prior” canard:

          Ah, the bogey-man of priors is trotted out to scare the children, as if priors can be capriciously set to anything the analyst wants (insert sounds of mad, wicked laughter here) and thereby predetermine the conclusion. In actuality, priors are overt and explicitly agreeable to a skeptical scientific audience. Typically they are set to be noncommittal so that they have minimal influence on the posterior distribution. When there is considerable previous research to inform a prior, then a strong prior can give great inferential leverage to small samples. And not using strong prior information when it is available can be a serious blunder; consider random drug testing and disease diagnosis, which must take into account the base rates, i.e., the priors.

  17. Frederick says:

    Excellent article, Dr Novella as always.
    I understand nothing about Stats, thank to you to dumb it down in really good way.

    I did a small stats class in high school, I remember 0% ( Or 0.00 lol). I remember that “science et vie” did a article about Bayesian Stats a while ago, I do have that edition, I will find it in my book shelf and read it again. I’m good at math, I love trigonometry, integer and derivative, well My glass in them were basic, but i end up with a 95% grade, But stats, I don’t understand them. I rely On people on other people.

    I Shared this article to the best Friend of my wife, not only she just past her royal Canadian medicine test, ( no surprise here she is a genius), but she LOVE stats and science. A good SBM Doc! I should ask her to explain Statistic to me a little.

    I think Prior plausibility is a underrated condition. Last week WLU point out how we have to be careful with that, but still, when the prior plausibility goes against ALL science known to man, we don’t have to make studies. Homeopathy is a good example. once we understand biology, chemistry and physic, it should have been thrown ( in a perfect world were all peoples can use their brains) in the garbage without any need to investigate, because it was already impossible ( in a perfect world were all peoples can use their brains), Same with faith healing etc, BUT human beings a too gullible.

  18. Craig says:

    I’d prefer replication to raising the p-value as a way of providing more confidence in results. Raising the p-value does not prevent fraud or the application of researcher degrees of freedom – whereas independent replication would. If three independent researchers all produce a significant result at 5% – I would have much more confidence in the result than if a single researcher produces a result with a .0001 p value.

  19. Craig says:

    I’d prefer replication to raising the p-value as a way of providing more confidence in results. Raising the p-value does not prevent fraud or the application of researcher degrees of freedom – whereas independent replication would. If three independent researchers all produce a significant result at 5% – I would have much more confidence in the result than if a single researcher produces a result with a .0001 p value.

  20. Vasileios Anagnostopoulos says:

    I do not know if this paper is mentioned in this blog, but since I use machine learning in my work here it is

    http://www.med.mcgill.ca/epidemiology/joseph/courses/EPIB-675/Berger.Berry.pdf

    I am not a doctor.

  21. Miles says:

    For those interested: the book “The Cult of Statistical Significance” explores the over-emphasis of p-values over effect sizes; it’s a problem across a lot of disciplines.

  22. Badly Shaved Monkey says:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/beware-the-p-value/comment-page-1/#comment-244821

    And after that, whoa seems to have disappeared.

    I wonder why.

    1. Andrey Pavlov says:

      Color me unsurprised. People like to think their thoughts are novel and will have impact. It sort of deflates it when a bunch of people accurately predict your next thought and move and pre-emptively counter it.

    2. whoa says:

      Whoa doesn’t have unlimited time to spend on blogs, that’s why.

      The “skeptics” here despise CAM and can’t stand it when it gets significant results.

      If exactly the same kind of statistics are used in Big Drug research, the “skeptics” think that’s just fine. Of course, because they already knew the prior probability that Big Drug is right about everything.

      P values are extremely useful, but like anything else they can be misused and misunderstood.

      Steve Novella does not understand statistics even at the most basic level, but feels qualified to criticize the use of p values in CAM.

      1. Andrey Pavlov says:

        The “skeptics” here despise CAM and can’t stand it when it gets significant results.

        Oh? Do tell. I haven’t seen any of these results of which you speak.

        And don’t forget that the whole point of this post was to distinguish between “statistical significance” and what most people mean as significant. CAM has some of the former, but essentially zero of the latter.

        If exactly the same kind of statistics are used in Big Drug research, the “skeptics” think that’s just fine.

        No. We lambaste those too. The difference is that when a p-value shows an actual drug to have a statistically significant difference in patient care that carries a lot more weight than when something like homeopathy or reiki is shown to do the same thing.

        Of course, because they already knew the prior probability that Big Drug is right about everything.

        No, not in the slightest. The difference is that “Big Drug” uses the known and well applied principles of chemistry, physics, pharmacology, biochemistry, physiology, modern pathophysiology and so on. That is the prior probability in the favor of “Big Drug.” CAM instead uses the disproven principles of qi, meridians, vital forces, bioenergetic fields, naturalistic fallacies, and so on which is what the prior probability there is based on.

      2. weing says:

        @whoa,
        “The “skeptics” here despise CAM and can’t stand it when it gets significant results.”
        Hold on there. CAM becomes regular medicine, once it is shown to work. But don’t expect us to accept crap. Have the same standard for CAM as for Big Pharma.

        1. whoa says:

          “when a p-value shows an actual drug to have a statistically significant difference in patient care that carries a lot more weight than when something like homeopathy or reiki is shown to do the same thing.”

          I am glad to see a “skeptic” admit that his faith is in dogmatic ideology, NOT in science. At least you are honest.

          1. Harriet Hall says:

            That’s not dogmatic ideology. It’s a re-statement of Carl Sagan’s maxim: extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

          2. brewandferment says:

            how about explaining the physical processes of reiki and homeopathy to us? Be sure to address how they are compatible with current knowledge of physics, chemistry, etc. And if they contradict them, show the references to justify that your understanding supercedes that of so many experts. Don’t go historical (galileo vs. vatican), just stick to the subjects at hand with proofs that can be replicated.

          3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            I am glad to see a “skeptic” admit that his faith is in dogmatic ideology, NOT in science. At least you are honest.

            Um…the fact that most CAM modalities can’t work is based on our current understanding of science. Homeopathy dilutes substances out of existence and can have no chemical effect, and must instead reach for imaginary “structures of water”, or quantum effects that quantum physics says can’t actually influence biological structures. Acupuncture claims the existence of energy that can’t be measured, or handwaves about gate theories and gives up much of its breadth of treatment in the process. Naturopathy is a mutually-contradictory bundle of nonsense or is merely parasitic on mainstream diet, exercise and lifestyle advice. Chiropractic is either physio with a twist (in which case – why not be a physio?) or claims the existence of an “innate intelligence” that has never been proven as well as undetectable subluxations. Herbal medicine might work – but if an herb actually has an effect, how is it superior to a drug that can be refined to a specific, reliable potency and modified to remove adverse effects.

            Which CAM modality is supported by actual science? And I’m not talking about clinical trials – I’m talking about a reliable, proven, replicable mechanism that fits with our understanding of anatomy and physiology?

          4. Sawyer says:

            Whoa I’d recommend you go back and read the very early articles on this site about prior plausibility and the difference between science-based and evidence-based medicine. This is a big stumbling block that a lot of people have trouble with, and I believe even some of the founders of this site were not all on the same page when SBM started. Slight philosophical differences aside, at this point there’s enough discussion and agreement to easily identify why p=.01 means something totally different for a pharmaceutical drug than it does for reiki.

            The people arguing that p-values have identical meanings in these two scenarios are in fact the ones promoting “dogmatic ideology”.

      3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        The “skeptics” here despise CAM

        That’s true.

        and can’t stand it when it gets significant results

        I can stand positive results, I can’t stand the promotion and sale of CAM on the basis of unreplicated, clinically-insignificant results and the contemptible double-standard CAM practitioners have for their own practices versus real medicine. If the researchers were paid by Pfizer rather than being acupuncturists themselves, with the same methods and results CAM promoters would scream bloody murder and use it as proof of the FDA’s corruption. But when CAM has barely-significant, unreplicated results reported in shoddy journals by practitioners, it’s merely another excuse to fatten wallets. It’s the hypocrisy I can’t stand.

        If exactly the same kind of statistics are used in Big Drug research, the “skeptics” think that’s just fine. Of course, because they already knew the prior probability that Big Drug is right about everything.

        As I allude to above, this is untrue and one of the frequent criticisms made of Big Pharma trials are bias, buried results, lack of full disclosure, exaggerated conclusions and inflation of statistical significance into clinical significance. I would wager that what CAM practitioners hate is how effective real medicines are – because they can’t compete, and are left scraping gutter-results like symptom relief and vague “lifestyle” conditions for the worried-well. Methinks CAM practitioners crave the authority, credibility, and above all healing capabilities of real medications, which is why they are advocating for the right to prescribe drugs.

        Steve Novella does not understand statistics even at the most basic level, but feels qualified to criticize the use of p values in CAM.

        The funny thing is, your original comment, in substance, appears to agree substantially with Dr. Novella’s points. P values shouldn’t be considered in isolation, replication is necessary, caution is necessary when attributing causality, context matters. It’s maybe the interpretation where you argue, and of course your failure to recognize the innate improbability of most CAM modalities. Chiropractic care is useful for back pain only and they are at best a flavour of physiotherapy (though many are flat-out crazy), herbs might have some effect (and if so – will have adverse effects because the human body is badly designed), acupuncture’s effects are almost certainly solely due to being a dramatic placebo, reiki is nonsense and homeopathy can’t work. CAM practitioners are rather notorious for relying on single-study, isolated results with shoddy methods, and are absolutely tops at ignoring meta-analyses and comprehensive commentaries that assess the whole of the literature and give due credit to methods.

        Which CAM modality do you think is unjustly prejudged on the basis of prior probability? Which CAM approach shouldn’t be discarded a priori?

  23. Badly Shaved Monkey says:

    The hit and run habits of SCAM-fans are predictable and frustrating. They never stick around for the forensic demolition of their fond notions.

    I am always reminded of my cat who was showing off smugly rolling around on a shed roof, got too close to the edge and fell to the ground with a thump. He then strutted away with a look on his face that said “I meant to do that”.

    But he didn’t.

    I have always felt that DUllman was the greatest exhibitor of that behaviour, bit SSR has been a recent contender for the crown.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      You’re never going to convince the DUllmans of the world, the only point in responding to them is to show anyone who might be reading their response that there is no merit to be found.

  24. Jack Harper says:

    I have difficulty believing the author.
    This arises from reviewing his new slanderous remarks surrounding the Seralini report.
    Now that the third review is in and jou rnals are recanting their slanderous claims I think it only fair Steven does the same.
    In Stevens article right in the first paragraph he accuses Seralini of producing bogus data claiming glysophates cause cancer.
    I read the report and no where will anyone find the word “cancer” mentioned.
    Then there is Stevens claims that Seralini used the wrong rats, too few rats, etc.
    Of course what Steven may or may not know is that Seralini used the same rats, the same number of rats fed the same maize under the same conditions as Monsanto’s own scientists.
    But this never gets mentioned.
    Why?
    Maybe Steven is a bought and paid for shabez goi.
    That’s my guess based on the facts available.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Libel, not slander.

      I have difficulty believing the author.
      This arises from reviewing his new slanderous remarks surrounding the Seralini report.

      So…because Dr. Novella said something you disagree with on a totally different subject, you don’t believe his statements about statistics? What specifically do you think he got wrong about p values? Do you prefer a frequentist approach and advocate for ignoring Bayesian analysis? Do you even know what this means?

      Now that the third review is in and jou rnals are recanting their slanderous claims I think it only fair Steven does the same.

      Link please? How do we know you aren’t just a scientifically-illiterate Seralini apologist here to try to smear someone’s reputation, with no understanding of the actual issues beyond fear of things you don’t understand? Despite the actual issues being rather easy to understand. And regarding Seralini, how does a post-hoc analysis overcome having a grossly inadequate number of tumor-prone subjects in an excessive number of conditions, and having no dose-response to the GMO grain?

      In Stevens article right in the first paragraph he accuses Seralini of producing bogus data claiming glysophates cause cancer.
      I read the report and no where will anyone find the word “cancer” mentioned.

      Did you search for the word “tumor”?

      Then there is Stevens claims that Seralini used the wrong rats, too few rats, etc.
      Of course what Steven may or may not know is that Seralini used the same rats, the same number of rats fed the same maize under the same conditions as Monsanto’s own scientists.
      But this never gets mentioned.
      Why?

      Because each study gets interpreted under its own analysis, because the study durations were different, and the study purposes were different? Seralini may have used the same number and distribution of rats, but he let them live a lot longer. These are extremely tumor-prone rats, and tumors increase based on lifespan. As I said above, there was no dose-response, it wasn’t fewer/smaller tumors with lower doses, the size and number of tumors were randomly distributed. And the Seralini study was intended as a PR exercise, not a safety study.

      Maybe Steven is a bought and paid for shabez goi.
      That’s my guess based on the facts available.

      And maybe you’re a forkin edjit who doesn’t understand the issues that aren’t spoon-fed to him by the anti-GMO crowd. For instance, you don’t seem to appreciate that humans don’t eat glyphosate, it’s sprayed on the fields while crop is sprouting to eliminate weeds while the field is being prepared – it’s not used on an ongoing basis. Glyphosate is also used in part because it breaks down extremely quickly. So the actual amount eaten by humans ends up being pretty close to zero. Not to mention, it acts on an enzymatic pathway that exists only on plants. Are you a plant? Well, you might be, but most human aren’t. That actually brings up a possible explanation – are you against glyphosate because you are a sentient plant? Is your head actually a cabbage? It would explain a lot.

      1. Jack Harper says:

        Usually it is a clown whose last resort is name calling.
        I can think of a much more appropreite name than “cabbage head” but, will refrain from such child’s play.
        Steven has resorted to a cut and paste smear of Seralini.
        It seems the norm these days among journalists.
        http://www.gmoseralini.org/republication-seralini-study-science-speaks/
        Posting comments is closed on the Seralini smear and that is why I am here.
        The word tumor was mentioned but, so what?
        Seralini’s test animals all died of exploding tumors or pressure from tumors on the animals organs.
        Do you simply assume the tumors were cancerous?
        Most of Monsanto’s research data is secret.
        One of the adjuvants in Roundup is extremely toxic.
        I see you do not know anything about farming.
        A typical canola crop here is sprayed up to 4 times with Roundup.
        Pre-emergent, post emergent, mid season and desication.
        Cattle fed GMO corn is loaded with Roundup.
        So is the food you buy at the super market.
        Roundup is patented as an antibiotic.
        Bet you didn’t know that.

        1. Windriven says:

          “One of the adjuvants in Roundup is extremely toxic.”

          Which one?

          “I see you do not know anything about farming.”
          - Not in evidence
          - Everything does not equal anything
          - Even if true, so what? The issue is latent toxicity of Roundup, not skill at sod-busting

          “Cattle fed GMO corn is loaded with Roundup.”

          Do you have a citation or is this your “expert” opinion?

          “So is the food you buy at the super market.”

          Do you have a citation or is this your “expert” opinion?

          “Roundup is patented as an antibiotic.”

          Would you be good enough to share the patent number?

        2. Frederick says:

          Oh yeah, Séralini Raw data was also a secret, on his first publishing, nobody had access to the raw data by the way. That was one of the critics. since he statistical analysis was super bad and botched, other wanted the raw data to made them, but of course, he refused. Because. so Yeah you are Right, access to raw data is important, Problem is, your guru did the same. So yeah if you think Mosanto is bad, you have to think Séralini is bad, since he does exactly all the stuff you accuse Mosanto to do. Double standard is not a logical thing.

          http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2014/06/27/new-life-for-seralinis-gm-corn-toxicity-study-but-raw-data-still-no-where-to-be-seen/

        3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          Usually it is a clown whose last resort is name calling.
          I can think of a much more appropreite name than “cabbage head” but, will refrain from such child’s play.

          I can be much more creative than that, you shit-guzzling decerebrate societal parasite. I would try reason, but if you are willing to bet everything on Seralini’s study, with all the conflicts of interest found therein and in exclusion of all the other studies on GMO and glyphosate (and ignoring the fact that there is so much more to GMO than roundup resistance), there’s no point in pretending this is a rational discussion.

          The word tumor was mentioned but, so what?
          Seralini’s test animals all died of exploding tumors or pressure from tumors on the animals organs.

          Exploding tumors? Was anyone hurt? Aside from the rats of course. Incidentally, this was one of the criticisms of Seralini – that the animals suffered for far longer than necessary (that and they all died in vain because there were too many groups with too few animals in each – there were more study groups than there were animals in each group FFS).

          Do you simply assume the tumors were cancerous?

          If they’re not cancerous, is there a health risk? Also, Seralini’s own paper uses the word “cancer” numerous times, and even if he may be strictly speaking able to say he didn’t say “GMO and roundup causes cancer”, he’s definitely within a nod and a wink of saying so. Oh, and the tumors’ cancerous nature might be irrelevant as, to quote Seralini, “non-cancerous tumors can be more lethal than those of cancerous nature”. Great.

          Most of Monsanto’s research data is secret.

          So what? It’s not like monsanto is the only funder of research on genetic modification. Plus, you really think that with all the people who work for Monsanto, every single one of them is perfectly willing to put their health, and the health of their children, and parents and friends at risk for the good of their company? For someone with such certainty you’re surprisingly ignorant.

          One of the adjuvants in Roundup is extremely toxic.

          Which one there champ? Put another way – how do we know you aren’t simply lying? Or merely repeating something Joe Mercola told you to say? Are you a shill for Natural News? The last Great Troll we had here would copy and paste text right from the NN website, are you doing the same? How much does Ol’ Joe pay you to badmouth GMO? Does he pay you in cash, or virgin coconut oil, cold-pressed?

          A typical canola crop here is sprayed up to 4 times with Roundup.
          Pre-emergent, post emergent, mid season and desication.
          Cattle fed GMO corn is loaded with Roundup.
          So is the food you buy at the super market.

          Really? Because normally it breaks down quite quickly and in humans, who lack the biological pathways that glyphosate gloms onto in plants to prevent them from sprouting, it’s peed and pooped out quite quickly. Also in the cows you are so worried about. So it is excreted quickly and easily, it is applied only four times in a season, it breaks down readily in the environment, and why am I supposed to be worried about it again?

          Also, surely you have citations to support your claim that it is found in meaningful amounts in the food I buy at the supermarket? Because frankly you don’t seem like someone whose word I can trust. Citation please.

          Roundup is patented as an antibiotic.
          Bet you didn’t know that.

          It’s not so much that I didn’t know that, as I don’t believe you. And further – who cares? People routinely consume antibiotics for years without adverse effects, so saying “it’s an antibiotic” is of no more consequence than to say “it’s an ergogenic aid” or “it smells like apples”. You’re attempting to make factual statements as if they were an argument. What are the implications of your facts if roundup isn’t ultimately toxic in humans?

        4. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          Also, the whole “glyphosate/antibiotic” thing seems to be the work of a single researcher who lacks a bit of credibility. I’d love to see a non-Mercola, non-Huber source for this statement. Surely you can find one, right? Or will you just believe anything Mercola tells you?

    2. Windriven says:

      “Maybe Steven is a bought and paid for shabez goi.”

      Interesting choice of allusion as it is a term used frequently by rabid, evangelical Christian antisemites of the snake handling persuasion; green-toothed morons whose notion of foreplay is, “hey Sis, you up?”

      Why would you inject such a charged term into this? Are you an Aryan nutbag convinced that ‘the Jew’ controls everything? Or are you a Klansman who hates blacks and Catholics too? Just trying to figure out which garbage pail you belong in.

      So, back to business: which journals are “recanting”? Seralini got his paper republished in some start-up journal that no one has ever heard of. Have I missed something?

      1. MadisonMD says:

        Yes, you forgot to mention that the republished paper was not peer reviewed.

        1. Frederick says:

          Yeah I was about the say that, Dr Novella spoke about it, yeah no new reviews at all 0. So yes Mister Harper, it is still bad science and propaganda all paid up by anti-gmo group with 0 independence and 0 objectivity. they also have their agenda. ( anti-gmo studies funded by anti-gmo, and they dare to called it independent, ridiculous)

          Also Some of his funds came from some big French groceries store chains who had taken a stance against GMO for ( one had for 15 years). So it is in their interest that people become scared of GMO, even if they are safe and the fear is based a lie, once the seed of fear is planted, a lot of people will avoid them, so where the scared French people will go buy their groceries? In the Evil-mosanto free Auchan and Carrefour stores! Ching ching! $$$

          http://gmopundit.blogspot.ca/2012/09/auchan-and-carrefour-financed-criigen.html

          Oh yeah, they also did not even go in front of a ethical comity, they let the rats die horribly in their cages, because dead rats make powerful picture when you want to release your study with a Press release. And don,t forget that all journalist had to sign up a form stating that, if they wanted to have the scoop, they did have any right to check with any other scientist before publishing. They that’s is only the superficial things, The bad data, bad analyses are covered with quality in real science site. and it is bullock.

          Seriously, if Pioneer or mosanto did a quarter of this, Anti-gmo groups would have been all over the place with such bad science, and they would have been right. That’s a childish double standard: we can because we are good, we don’t need real evidence, just ideology. But you can’t because we decided that you are evil! There’s real debate to be had about usage, Patents, That’s where they should focus, and not be anti-gmo, but “pro well done and usable science”.

          Séralini is the wakefield of biology.

          This web site have good articles and references about this subject, all in french, But I’ll post it anyway
          http://www.pseudo-sciences.org/spip.php?rubrique38

          1. Jack Harper says:

            There are countless (100′s) of scientists who would not only disagree with you but, might go so far as to call you a “liar”.

              1. Frederick says:

                LOLOLOL aaah tobias… NEVER-NUDE!

            1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

              Yes, and if you talk to scientists with the relevant expertise (toxicologists, geneticists, biochemists and agricultural scientists, i.e. the ones who matter), they’re generally pretty unconcerned. You can get hundreds of “scientists” who will say evolution isn’t true but you can get over a thousand biologists named Steve who will say it is. Expertise matters.

        2. Jack Harper says:

          Not true.
          GMOSeralini.org editor Claire Robinson commented: “This study has now successfully passed no less than three rounds of rigorous peer review.

          “The first was for the initial publication of the study in Food and Chemical Toxicology. It passed with only minor revisions, according to the authors.[3]

          “The second review took months. It involved a non-transparent examination of Prof Séralini’s raw data by a secret panel of unnamed persons organized by the editor-in-chief of FCT, A. Wallace Hayes, in response to criticisms of the study by pro-GMO scientists.[4,5]

          “In a letter to Prof Séralini, Hayes admitted that the anonymous reviewers found nothing ‘incorrect’ about the results presented. However, Hayes pointed to what he said was the ‘inconclusive’ nature of some aspects of the paper, namely the tumour and mortality observations, to justify his decision to retract the study.[6]

          “The rationale given for the retraction was widely criticized by scientists as an act of censorship and a bow to the interests of the GMO industry.[7,8] Some scientists pointed out that numerous published scientific papers contain inconclusive findings, including Monsanto’s own short (90-day) study on the same GM maize, and have not been retracted.[9] The retraction was even condemned by a former member of the editorial board of FCT.[10]

          “Now the study has passed a third peer review arranged by the journal that is republishing the study, Environmental Sciences Europe.[11]

          1. Jack Harper says:

            The standards to get a product on the shelf that could end up in our food supply are non-existent.
            Monsanto conducted a 90 day study and started spraying.
            Monsanto’s raw data is secret.
            Monsanto claims you can drink glysophate.
            Throw in some adjuvants (Roundup) and Monsanto won’t touch it unless suited up in rubber.
            Roundup is an antibiotic.
            http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/10/06/dr-huber-gmo-foods.aspx
            I suspect there will be a massive class action suit soon, now other scientists have Serilini’s data as something to build upon.
            The bottom line is disturbing in the contract signed by any farmer who has ever opened a bag of seed.
            THE EXCLUSIVE REMEDY OF THE GROWER AND THE LIMIT OF THE LIABILITY OF MONSANTO OR ANY SELLER FOR ANY AND ALL LOSSES, INJURY OR DAMAGES RESULTING FROM THE USE OR HANDLING OF SEED CONTAINING MONSANTO TECHNOLOGY (INCLUDING CLAIMS BASED IN CONTRACT, NEGLIGENCE, PRODUCT LIABILITY, STRICT LIABILITY, TORT, OR OTHERWISE) SHALL BE THE PRICE PAID BY THE GROWER FOR THE QUANTITY OF THE SEED INVOLVED OR, AT THE ELECTION OF MONSANTO OR THE SEED SELLER, THE REPLACEMENT OF THE SEED. IN NO EVENT SHALL MONSANTO OR ANY SELLER BE LIABLE FOR ANY INCIDENTAL, CONSEQUENTIAL, SPECIAL, OR PUNITIVE DAMAGES.
            There you go.
            Monsanto is covered and the farmer is hung out to dry in the noon day son.

            1. Jack Harper says:

              One other thing.
              GMO corn ends up being both herbicide resistant and able to produce its own pesticide.
              Again.
              No standards exist to peer review this crap.
              That’s got to change.

              1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                Oh, sorry, you cited Joe Mercola. You lose the internet.

                Also, you’re completely ignoring just how many negative reactions there have been by scientists to the study. Not to mention your apparent ignorance of how science works. You don’t get to do a single study and proclaim it a win – there is a convergence of data, of which this study is a single data point (and not a convincing one) that genetic modification, roundup-ready genes and glyphosate itself are of no particularly significant risks.

                The fact that Monsanto uses standard legal boilerplate doesn’t mean roundup is toxic there champ. Only studies showing roundup is toxic can prove that roundup is toxic. There’s not really any, none in humans at the doses consumed by most consumers. Or cows for that matter, whom we cut up and eat by the way. I’m not too concerned if the cow I’m about to turn into poo gets cancer.

                Monsanto claims you can drink glysophate.

                So what? Monsanto can claim whatever it wants, if you want to convince people glyphosate is toxic, prove glyphosate is toxic. Don’t make tangential claims as if they were proof.

                And finally, your long legal paragraph basically looks like a statement saying “you can’t sue me if your corn doesn’t germinate”, not “if you die of massive tumors it’s not our fault”. You see massive conspiracy. I see the standard legalese used to protect companies from massive lawsuits. I also see farmers eager and willing to use Monsanto crops, to the point that they’re willing to fraudulently violate contracts preventing them from reusing the seeds. Schmeiser wasn’t suing Monsanto for spoiling his poor precious fields with their nasty GMO canola, he was getting sued by Monsanto for using their intellectual property without payment.

            2. Sawyer says:

              Monsanto’s raw data is secret.

              That sounds like it might be worth actual attention. If you hadn’t padded it with blatant nonsense and exaggerated this issue by a factor of 1000, some of us would have been willing to have an intelligent discussion about it.

          2. Windriven says:

            “GMOSeralini.org editor Claire Robinson commented:”

            GMOSeralini.org editor? You are offering this as unbiased proof?

            And while we’re chatting, you never answered me. Are you an antisemite? A national socialist? A garden variety wingnut? If not, why the comment about shabez goi?

            1. Windriven says:

              Oh Jesus Christ – and then you cite Mercola???

              You expose yourself as a total screwball. Too bad. There might be a few crumbs worthy of inspection but mixed into the shitstorm of stupidity billowing from your mouth, nobody is going to take the time to try to find it.

              If you expect to shape the conversation you need to arm yourself with meaningful data and logical, compelling arguments. What you have so far is chaff; red meat for the always-enraged-about-something set, stimulants for those who think with their colons instead of their brains. Is that really the best you can do?

            2. Jack Harper says:

              One who lights the candles of another is a shabez goi.
              Not many have studied the aspect of human parasitism.
              I have, along with a notable fellow by the name of Eustace Mullins.
              If one Googles “human parasitism” you get nothing.
              Kind of odd unless a certain group eliminate any evidence leading to facts.
              A certain anthropologist from Toronto got on to them and produced a couple of fascinating books bordering on the subject.
              http://www.michaelbradley.info/books/iceman_chosen.html

              1. Windriven says:

                “I have [studied 'human parasitism'], along with a notable fellow by the name of Eustace Mullins.”

                Eustace Mullins was an execrable racist, holocaust denier, Aryan Leaguer, and neofascist.

                You keep interesting company, Jack.

              2. AdamG says:

                Yup, an antisemite alright. You do know that there’s no genetic evidence for the Khazar origin hypothesis, right?

                http://www.ashg.org/2013meeting/abstracts/fulltext/f130123130.htm

              3. Windriven says:

                @AdamG

                I’d never even heard of the Khazar origin hypothesis until I followed your link.

                I can’t keep track of the loonies and their various hallucinations. I don’t even know who they mean by ‘Jews.’ Jewishness seems to refer to at least three sets of people: genetic Semitic Jews, religious Jews who may or may not be Semitic, and cultural Jews who, again, may or may not be Semitic and aren’t particularly religious, but who include a Jewish component as part of their self identification.

                I’ve started and erased a half dozen follow on paragraphs because they were all banal. I’ll leave it at this: anybody who thinks Jews run the world or the Illuminati control everything or Allah wants them to kill all the wrong kinds of Muslims are deranged; they have significant mental issues. They should be pitied. And ignored.

              4. AdamG says:

                The genetic origins of modern Jews is actually an extremely fascinating area of study (though I might be a bit biased as a population geneticist of Ashkenazi descent). This wiki does a pretty decent job of summarizing the field and its complexities:

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_studies_on_Jews

          3. MadisonMD says:

            Now the study has passed a third peer review arranged by the journal that is republishing the study, Environmental Sciences Europe.

            Bull$hit. The editor of “GMOSerlani.org” appears to be an inacurate source. Fact is, that Henner Hollert, editor of Environmental Sciences Europe, which actually published the paper, said this:

            ESEU conducted no scientific peer review, he adds, “because this had already been conducted by Food and Chemical Toxicology, and had concluded there had been no fraud nor misrepresentation.”

  25. Jack Harper says:

    Do not believe me.
    Believe this 14 year old girl carving Kevin O’Leary a new a&%hole on Shark Tank.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Ec1Rvd4lyNw

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Oh, wow, youtube and Kevin O’Leary on a reality TV show. That’s convincing!

      Also, that cute little telegenic teen gets it right…as long as you are talking about the golden rice produced a decade ago. Current levels of provitamin A in golden rice are much higher. Not to mention this is the myth of the perfect solution – golden rice is only worthwhile if it can cure all vitamin A deficiency by itself. The reality is, eating three bowls of even the old rice would be enough to save thousands of kids from blindness as they would get additional vitamin A from other sources. Eating one bowl of the current variant of golden rice, with it’s 27-times higher yield of vitamin A, would actually prevent blindness for probably all people suffering from hypovitaminosis A.

      And what else that little shit is saying, after being programmed so nicely by her parents I would presume, is that “the problem is they eat just rice”. Well…here’s a way we can ensure they can eat “just rice” and not go blind because of hypovitaminosis A. And somehow this is a bad thing? So…now preventing blindness due to hypovitaminosis A with rice is a bad thing because it doesn’t cure all disease and all nutritional deficiencies?

      And I wonder how that little kid, programmed with her cute little talking points, would do when discussing with an actual scientist who studies genetic modification rather than an MBA graduate with a TV show? I mean really – it’s like getting your dentist to go on a radio show to debate the safety record of Toyotas circa 2009-2011 with the son of a couple who were killed in a vehicle roll-over. Real debates aren’t settled with telegenic kids on talk shows whose sole virtue is memorization – it’s settled with evidence (that shows GMO is no more dangerous than conventional breeding, and glyphosate isn’t a human hazard).

  26. Frederick says:

    LOLOL you use that biases uniformed little girl ( she’s a teen, it is normal that she believe stuff propaganda group throw at her) debating an as much uniformed crazy dude as proof. that’s is funny. If she had debated a real biologist, I guest it will have turn out differently. 2 person who know really nothing about a complicate subject debating about it, it is ridiculous.

    oh by the way I’m not a liar since all I said are taken from the hundreds of critic done to that study, And you are not liying either ( although a little) , you are just distorting logic and truth, it is called motivated reasoning, despiste the all the evidence presented to you, you will still rationalize it to fit your belief. just like Creationist, climate change deniers, anti-vaxx etc. Séralini study was funded by biases croup with a agenda, this is not a lying, it is a fact, those funding are discloses, If a Mosanto had been ehind study as much as Anti-gmo were behind this study, you would been crying out loud about it, and we will have agreed. Double Standard again. If you apply some logic to one side of science, you have to applied to ALL. you can’t pick the rule you want only want it that fit the best you interest. When you do that, it give bad science, Like That dreaded study! and countless others.
    Séralini himself his really bias. It’s not the first time he did bad science, it is renown in the whole scientific world for that.

    I guess that He does it for the Hero feeling, and the personality cult. You are a good example of that, defending him despite that all evidences ( all you have left are conspiracy devoid of evidence made up to fit you agenda) point toward him being a fraud. Maybe obsession with his own persona. A real scientist will have accepted that he was wrong, and change his opinion. when you twist your data to fit your agenda, it is evidence that you are NOT a scientist.

    1. Jack Harper says:

      There you go again delving into name calling.
      It not only makes you out to look like an idiot.
      It reaffirms it.

      1. Windriven says:

        “It not only makes you out to look like an idiot.
        It reaffirms it.”

        Yeah Jack, sorry. Frederick has been around here for a while and he’s demonstrated pretty thoroughly that he isn’t an idiot. Or an antisemite, by the way. You, on the other hand, haven’t made that grade. You’ve pretty much cornered the market on idiocy in this thread.

      2. Frederick says:

        You are a funny one, name calling ? you called me a liar couple of comments ago, when I was just restating known facts. That qualify as name calling. And I also said that you are NOT a liar but that you are making motivated reasoning. it is not a insult, I just pointed out you bad logic. Maybe you did not like be place equal in your bad logic as the climate change deniers? But sorry that’s what you are doing.

        I did insult a little Gille-éric Séralini, but that guy do not deserve any respect. We don’t need insult to destroy he research, because it is super bad. But He deserve to be called a Fraud and a Manipulator. At first I did use some Quebecois-french slag to insult him, and I rewrite it because it was Vulgarities and SBM is a place I respect a lot, so i decided that I should not do it.

        I also Did called that right-wing dude a crazy, he is also stupid, He a canadian Tv host known for his ridiculous position, He is suppose to know economy, but he shown his ignorance most of the time ( and probably the fact that his goal is just to provoke people and making his TV station rating go Higher). I don’t care that he his Right wing, and I’m left, I had intelligent discussion with people from the “other side”, but this man does not qualify as one.

        Or maybe you were talking about My funny comment about the attack of the trolls. I did not point you out as one, But hey, if you want to wear the hat, go ahead.

        I’m not even angry or whatever, it is a good day today. I have a glass of Muscadet, it is me and my GF twelves years anniversary. So have a good day anyway.

        @Windriven well Thank for the good word. Antisemite? where the Hell does he saw that? Well he make a lot of things up, so, i’m not suprise.

        1. Frederick says:

          Oh I just read more of his commenst, HE’S the antisemite… indeed he his. I thought he had called me that and that I have not seen it.

  27. weing says:

    “There you go again delving into name calling.
    It not only makes you out to look like an idiot.
    It reaffirms it.”
    I thought you did all that with the shabez goi reference.

    1. Jack Harper says:

      Wrong,
      You are not Steven or are you?

  28. Jack Harper says:

    I’m not a lawyer.
    Does that mean I have no grasp of the law?
    The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada is scared speechless of me.
    She happens to be the head of the Canadian Judicial Counsel.
    The CJC handles complaints against federal court judges.
    Every complaint with one exception
    Mine.
    So, I am not a scientist, besides, doesn’t science exist for the sole purpose of proving itself wrong?
    Isn’t everything that is held in high regard today proven to be garbage tomorrow?
    So, you listen to me sonny boy.

    1. AdamG says:

      The CJC handles complaints against federal court judges.
      Every complaint with one exception
      Mine.

      Gee, maybe because it’s completely hilarious?
      http://www.darkmoon.me/2014/canada-the-new-nazi-germany-by-robert-fisk/#comment-713404

    2. Windriven says:

      “The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada is scared speechless of me.”

      Well you certainly have a disturbing (and disturbed) mind. But fear isn’t exactly the emotion that you elicit.

      “The CJC handles complaints against federal court judges.
      Every complaint with one exception
      Mine.”

      Guessing your complaint to be as well considered as your jabber in these pages, one suspects that the CJC is still convulsed with laughter.

      “Isn’t everything that is held in high regard today proven to be garbage tomorrow?”

      Nah, mostly we trim up the edges. Major reworkings of fundamentals are exceedingly rare.

      You have a most unusual imagining of science, how it works, and the stability of its major findings.

      “So, you listen to me sonny boy.”

      Not much chance of that.

    3. Chris says:

      “So, you listen to me sonny boy.”

      Only for the comic relief.

    4. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Does that mean I have no grasp of the law?

      Pretty much, yeah. You may have done independent study, that doesn’t make you a lawyer. Could make you a vexatious litigant though.

      The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada is scared speechless of me.
      She happens to be the head of the Canadian Judicial Counsel.
      The CJC handles complaints against federal court judges.
      Every complaint with one exception
      Mine.

      Wow, talk about delusions of grandeur. It’s quite possible she considers you a paranoid lunatic who is a possible danger to public figures, or merely irksome and not worth dealing with.

      By the way, you really do appear to be an antisemite.

      So, I am not a scientist, besides, doesn’t science exist for the sole purpose of proving itself wrong?

      Um…no. No it doesn’t. If your grasp of law is as bad as your grasp of science, I don’t think the chief justice is scared of you, I think she thinks you’re beneath her notice. Does that grate?

      Isn’t everything that is held in high regard today proven to be garbage tomorrow?

      Um…again no. Science builds on past knowledge. Sometimes it’s wrong. Often it’s mostly right, but with some wrong points. Few modern theories have been shown completely wrong, but generally we’re merely refining or modifying things that we generally know are correct.

      So, you listen to me sonny boy.

      Why? You appear to be a racist, scientifically ignorant, credulous loon who is unable to even explain the process of scientific discovery. You haven’t said anything worth listening to.

      1. Windriven says:

        Christ on a crutch, William. Where did you find that dark moon site? I’ve already had my shower. Now I have to go take another one.

        In another thread somewhere, Andrey and brew pretty much talked me out of the notion that racism is a psychiatric problem. Now I’m rethinking that. Tribalism is one thing. Brutal, hateful, loathing because of one’s supposed genetic heritage is another. That is not a view held by a healthy mind. That sort of dehumanizing thinking is what makes violence against the hated so easy.

        If you’ve never read James Baldwin’s short.story Going to Meet the Man, put it on your todo list for this week. It has been decades since I read it and it still echoes in my mind.

        1. Andrey Pavlov says:

          Andrey and brew pretty much talked me out of the notion that racism is a psychiatric problem. Now I’m rethinking that. Tribalism is one thing. Brutal, hateful, loathing because of one’s supposed genetic heritage is another. That is not a view held by a healthy mind.

          The problem is that it’s a relative term with a moralistic underpinning, windriven.

          A healthy mind? By what standard? By the standard that it doesn’t comport with the society you believe, for whatever reason, to be better? Granted you and I would both very largely agree on this topic and rightly point to the fact that we have very good evidence and rigorous logic to support it all. But the point is that those brutal, hateful people also genuinely believe, for reasons that to them are as equally valid as ours, that their vision of society is actually the best. Acting in concordance with that belief is in fact the most sane thing to do. It can only be thought of as the proper functioning of the brain.

          An unhealthy brain would be one that simply could not follow any path of rigorous logic to a conclusion. But these people can and do employ a rational pathway to outcomes based on the fundamental precepts they accept. So sure, something in their brain is “wrong” if you will, as it is something we would agree is contrary to good evidence or good logic. But that is just the same thing as saying they believe a bad idea. There are myriad reasons for believing in bad ideas that are entirely outside the control of the individual. Do you really think that a boy who is absolutely psychiatrically intact is raised by a group of KKK members in a very isolated town would somehow not then act in concordance with what he was taught with no way better to know*?

          I mean, that’s the way I see it anyways. If you want to argue that their precepts are wrong and then equate that with mental illness, then that is just ignoring what we know about the brain because you want to focus on the edges of the bell curve. The only reasonable definition that will stay consistent across the bell curve is a functional one – mental illness is when the basic functioning of it – the process of going from input(s) to output(s) – is malfunctioning.

          *Yes, granted there are always cases where the barrier to knowing better is vastly lower than my example. It was just for illustrative purposes. At the end of the day no matter how low that barrier is, if people haven’t cleared it that almost always means it is simply because for whatever myriad other reasons their ability to clear that barrier is simply lower. Rarely is that because of psychiatric illness.

          1. Windriven says:

            ‘Drey-

            “But the point is that those brutal, hateful people also genuinely believe, for reasons that to them are as equally valid as ours, that their vision of society is actually the best.”

            I know someone quite well who genuinely believes that she has tiny red and blue worms in her skin. She picks herself raw and then claims triumphantly that the worms caused the lesions. Anti-psychotics make those worms go away. But she won’t stay on them.

            Genuinely believing something doesn’t make one sane.

            “Do you really think that a boy who is absolutely psychiatrically intact is raised by a group of KKK members in a very isolated town would somehow not then act in concordance with what he was taught with no way better to know*?”

            Absolutely. I was raised in a devoutly Catholic family but knew by my first communion that it was bulltwaddle. Everyone you know can call a tail a leg but a donkey still only has four legs.

            “mental illness is when the basic functioning of it – the process of going from input(s) to output(s) – is malfunctioning.”

            Thank you Andrey. I rest my case. Read the links that Jack Sprat included above. The only way to get from the inputs that we all share to the outputs reflected in those links is through an industrial strength bar blender.

            Where I wonder about mental illness is when pigeonholing Jews or Blacks or Gingers turns into dehumanizing rhetoric that withholds basic humanity from the target people. That isn’t garden variety tribalism. That is the driveway to Treblinka.

            1. Andrey Pavlov says:

              No, genuinely believing something doesn’t make someone sane. But going from those beliefs to an outcome accurately and logically does. I should have also added that the things believed in, for my illustrative purposes, must be one that is commonly believed. It’s not a cop out – it is because that is a rational explanation for believing something completely wrong without necessitating insanity. Your friend believes in something that is much more readily at odds with accepted reality. I know that is subjective and there will be some gray areas, no doubt. But I don’t think your example refutes my point. Particularly since your friend is also clearly not following input to output properly – she is doing the damage and then blaming it on the worms. That is an incongruence of input and output.

              As for the fact that you knew Catholicism was crap by communion, the exceptions don’t disprove the rule. I also knew that my own baptism was ridiculous. The fact of the matter is that folks like you and I are unusual. The vast majority of people would not have known or acted the same way. It is we that are abnormal in this regard.

              As for Jack Sprat – you may be correct. I haven’t read any of his stuff nor his links (I am exceptionally selective in what I read and choose to respond to these days as I am working 70 hour weeks as an intern now). He specifically (or those links or whatever) may indeed contain evidence of psychiatric illness. I was responding to your general point as per our previous conversation with Mouse that you referenced.

              1. Windriven says:

                I’ve settled down a bit since last night though I think we’re talking about a real line and just arguing about where that line should be placed. At what point does eccentric thought slide into madness?

                My acquaintance believes there are worms in her skin. Jack Sprat believes the world is run by a cabal of Jews. Neither has grounding in reality.

                “As for Jack Sprat – you may be correct. I haven’t read any of his stuff ‘

                And there you distinguish yourself as a man with a well ordered mind. Because there is nothing in those links that will leave you richer for having read them.

              2. Andrey Pavlov says:

                I think we’re talking about a real line and just arguing about where that line should be placed. At what point does eccentric thought slide into madness?

                Yes, precisely. I am trying to draw a line that will be the same for everyone regardless of the specific content of a specific eccentricity.

                Obviously it is not a bright line in the sand. Perhaps it cannot even be a single like across all people. But I still think that things like misogyny or racism can’t be in and of themselves a sign of mental illness. They can be a component of it, or color the particularly insanity of a person, but simply by themselves are not an indication of a fundamental pathology of the human brain. Because for most of our history those sorts of things have been the norm for our brains.

                My acquaintance believes there are worms in her skin. Jack Sprat believes the world is run by a cabal of Jews. Neither has grounding in reality.

                Sure, neither does. Except that Jack’s beliefs are believed by many others as well and, most importantly, he doesn’t fabricate events to continue with it (well, perhaps he does, like I said I haven’t read his crap). Your friend also clearly picks at her own skin and then states it was worms. That is a dysfunction of the mind. Starting with the premise that a cabal of Jews run the world, he could be reaching logical conclusions.

                But anyways, I was arguing the principle. As I said, Jack may really be mentally ill and also happen to believe in the cabal of Jews as part of his focus of mental illness. The content of his writing could betray that and I wouldn’t know. All I’m trying to say is that a firm belief that a cabal of Jews runs the world and a profound anti-Semitism in and of themselves are not sufficient signs of mental illness.

        2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          Christ on a crutch, William. Where did you find that dark moon site?

          Google, but AdamG had already linked to it above. It led me to his full name, which led me to a database of Canadian court cases, which led me to the subsequent post about how he’s a freeman on the land – proving that he’s not only a credulous idiot about medicine, he’s also a completely uneducated and arrogant loon about law too. Which impairs his grandiose claims about the Chief Justice being afraid of him and whatnot.

          I’m not bothering to look into his specific claims about Jews, it’s not worth the time and the entertainment value is low. I’m already satiated just by finding out that he believes he’s not bound by Canadian law by the Magna Carta. Hilarious!

          1. Windriven says:

            I missed AdamG’s link. That site gave me the creeps.

            And yeah, Jackie needs to move up to heavy duty aluminum foil.

          2. Frederick says:

            I tried to understand What thais group is, you read the “about us”, and it seem to be left winged, than after it seem right wing, than It seem to be a borderline fanatical religious groupe. they seem a bit confused, total bullocks . And fact that they want to promote truth and justice, but he denies all evidence of truth presented to him, typical true believer projections, and motivated reasoning. He should be ban I think, he is too much.

        3. brewandferment says:

          me? boy that doesn’t ring a bell–or is that another brew that doesn’t include sourdough bread??

          1. Windriven says:

            Well I thought it was you along with Andrey. Must have been one of the others. Sorry.

    5. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Incidentally – you claim some grasp of the law, could you provide a weblink to any cases that you have actually won in court? Surely someone of your legal stature would have examples to provide us with. Surely you’re not some random nutjob who gets a big rubbery one when he has someone to fight with.

  29. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Holy shitballs, you’re a freeman on the land nutjob? Oh wow, you just keep getting crazier! I mean, freemen are just loonie-loons, and you just keep losing in court too. That is your claim to terrifying the Chief Justice? Because you got sent a form letter? I mean Jebus, your defence was to invoke the Magna Carta? What, couldn’t find precedent in the Code of Hammurabi?

    No wonder you think Joe Mercola is hot shit, you’ve got absolutely no critical thinking skills. And if I read your case correctly, the whole thing started over a bicycle? Oh, yeah, you’ve got the Chief Justice on the ropes Jackie. I mean come on, freemen are literally, diagnosed delusional, and now you expect us to take you seriously? The funny thing about you freemen is how you fold like a wet papertowel when you lose in court. That is, when you’re not simply so incoherent you can’t even make a case. And of course, even though you self-important crazies, basically looking for a way to exploit the rules by ignoring them, just because you allegedly don’t believe in the law (though I’m sure you’re quick to call the cops when someone scary threatens you), that doesn’t mean the law doesn’t believe in you (and is perfectly willing to throw your ass in prison).

    Wow, that is some seriously crazy-crazy. Anyone else ever heard of the freeman types? They’re awesome, the kind of rare, sweet insanity you rarely find without a hobo beard.

    1. AdamG says:

      The funny thing about you freemen is how you fold like a wet papertowel when you lose in court. That is, when you’re not simply so incoherent you can’t even make a case.

      No, WLU, you see, they won’t respond to his complaint because they’re just too scared.

      1. Jack Harper says:

        This may be a little better spot to clarify matters,
        http://www.slaw.ca/2012/10/01/meads-v-meads-the-vexatious-litigants-case/
        And here you can see my former federal M.P. and Minister of Finance agree that I am indeed, correct.
        http://www.fourwinds10.net/siterun_data/government/corporate_u_s/news.php?q=1208194808

        1. Windriven says:

          So Jackie-Grant-vel’oice: Harper (you just can’t make this stuff up), how’s that “operating your unlicensed personal conveyance” on the public roads of Canada working out for you? Got the blighters on the run, do ya?

          And presuming that you find occasion to travel abroad, do you travel on a Canadian passport or an Archie Comic?

          Dude, you are an absolute basket of weasels. Keep it coming. Iraq in flames. Palestinians murdering Israeli kids. Israelis burning Palestinian kids alive. The world needs comic relief.

        2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          Dude, you sent in a whole bunch of notarized crap. What was the response? Because based on your documents, which are confusing as shit, it looks like your acting MP sent you a letter saying “I got your letter”. Then, maybe, because again confusing as shit, they decided not to contest your claim.

          You didn’t win, at best they saw that you were an irksome little pipsqueak who wasn’t worth talking to and didn’t bother showing up. No judge agreed with you.

          I’ve heard that freeman nonsense is basically a way of legal “gurus” (in the worst and most pejorative sense of the term) to sell CDs full of bad legal advice to credulous rubes. Did you pay anyone for a CD full of legal advice?

          Jesus, your documents make Timecube look like a VCR instruction manual.

    2. Jack Harper says:

      Who was it that said,
      “condemnation without investigation is the height of ignorance”?

      1. AdamG says:

        Bet you think it’s Einstein!

        I also bet you’re wrong.

    3. MadisonMD says:

      Click that Magna Carta link to find a legal document that is pure comedy gold. Jackie you just made my day.

    4. Sawyer says:

      The Freemen connection explains everything. Freemen don’t need science-based medicine. They cure all illness with spice melange and worm extract from Arrakis.

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Ah, hate to contradict, that’s “Fremen”. Freemen are like a Dunning-Kruger bomb set to explode with the countdown reaches “legal”.

  30. Windriven says:

    Who was it who said, “When you stare into the abyss, Jack Harper stares back with beady little eyes brimming with crazy, like Jack Nicholson in The Shining?” Might have been Nietsche, huh?

  31. Jack Harper says:

    The crime the crown claimed I committed when the police seized and impounded my car was operating a motor vehicle on the highway without a licence.
    I claimed I was simply exercising my right of access to the road.
    The rules of court interpret a Highway as : A road to which the public has the right of access…..
    So they convicted me for exercising my rights.
    The straw that broke the canals back was when they arrested me on my bike with a 49cc motor on it.
    They seized the bike as evidence to determine if it was a motor cycle.
    It was equipted with functioning peddles.
    It took nearly two years to get to trial.
    In the meantime the city sold the cops evidence (my bike).
    I was pissed to say the least.
    I sued my former M.P., mla, mayor, city counselor, traffic court prosecutor and attorney general.
    When it came to court I had all the lawyers appearing under contempt sanctions.
    The judge ignored his own rules and let the lawyers escape unscathed.
    I laid a complaint against the judge for his unbecoming conduct in the court room.
    The CJC assured me they would investigate the complaint with their lead investigator in charge and I would be notified of the results.
    I never heard from them again.
    I contacted them several times but no response.
    Yes, the Chief Justice is afraid to open her mouth.
    Especially after I quoted her in the complaint.
    Otherwise, I would have at least gotten their standard form letter response.
    What do lawyers do when they get caught in a scam?
    CLAM UP TIGHT.

    1. Windriven says:

      “The rules of court interpret a Highway as : A road to which the public has the right of access…..”

      You see Jackie, the problem is that those roads are owned and paid for by the members of a club called Canada. But you gave up your membership. So they don’t have to let you use their road. Capishe? That license that Canadians buy says that they are members of the club and they’ve paid their dues to use the road.

      Now you wouldn’t want every Tom, Dick and Vel’ oice to walk into your home and sit down at your table for a free dinner, would you? Well they don’t want you clogging up their roads free for nothing.

      1. Chris says:

        So the “freemen” are actually free loaders? They want all the rights and privilege of being a citizen, like being able to drive on public roads, but don’t want to pay for it! What a parasite.

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          In addition to their parasitism, they’re also assholes and liars. They take advantage of the good faith required for a civil (in the emotional rather than legalsense) society to function and abuse it, repeatedly and dishonestly. And they mostly come across as frankly crazy, but I’m guessing you’ve already seen that.

          It’s one of the more fascinating delusions, they’re like CAM quacks but in the legal sphere rather than medical.

    2. Jack Harper says:

      Same thing with scientists.
      When they get caught scamming everyone they clam up.
      For hundreds of years the lead scientist’s argued the earth was square.
      Anyone who disagreed was shunned as an idiot.
      Who was it amongst you who said the fundamentals of science never change?
      Haha…..that was a good one!

      1. AdamG says:

        For hundreds of years the lead scientist’s argued the earth was square.

        Sure about that?
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myth_of_the_Flat_Earth

        1. Jack Harper says:

          So someone on wiki is attempting to rewrite history.
          Same thing with the Witches of Salem
          No matter what anyone says…
          They were lawyers practicing their craft.
          Practicing law was a offense punishable by hanging in Virginia back in the day.

      2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        For hundreds of years the lead scientist’s argued the earth was square.
        Anyone who disagreed was shunned as an idiot.

        Yeah…the scientific method with particular reference to empirical results settling disputes was invented, what, a couple hundred years ago? It was only adoped widely in perhaps the past 150-200 years. People in the past weren’t following the scientific method as we define it. Any discussions that date from the past century? Any fundamental changes to scientific paradigms within the past 30 years?

        Who was it amongst you who said the fundamentals of science never change?

        Me, you crazy fucker.

    3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      I claimed I was simply exercising my right of access to the road

      The road built using public funds of a state entity you don’t recognize. Way to go, parasite.

      Yes, the Chief Justice is afraid to open her mouth.

      No dude, you’re a crazy fucknut and both your complaints and a pursuit of prosecution for a minor criminal charge are a waste of time and effort. Quite clearly the judge found your claims without merit and ignored them, then everyone else ignored your complaints, then you proclaimed victory.

      You’re the black knight.

      The Chief Justice saw that you were a waste of time and resources and ignored you.

      You lost. Particularly your dignity.

  32. Jack Harper says:

    Wrong.
    Those roads are not bought and paid for by a company called Canada.
    Those roads are owned and controlled by the Queen of England.
    On the top of every traffic ticket it begins with “On behalf of Her Majesty in the PROVINCE OF SASKATCHEWAN…..blah, blah blah
    Why would I require a licence to exercise a right?
    Do you even know what a licence is?
    A licence is a permit to do that which without the license is totally illegal, a trespass, a tort.
    Usually issued by some competent authority.
    You tell me why I should ask for permission to commit a crime?
    That is what a licence is.
    Permission-to-commit-a-crime.
    The government claims to be a competent authority in this now exposed scam.
    Trouble there is the fact the government is a corporation and thus deemed psychotic by the very fact a corporation can not exhibit emotional reaction to words.
    The sign of psychosis.
    According to a study done by the University of Cardiff.
    So now you got a problem.
    A lot bigger problem than me claiming my right to the road which is as older than the corporation called England.

    1. Windriven says:

      If, as you suggest, the roads are owned by the Queen of England, how can you then claim a ‘right’ to use them? The license conveys a limited permission to use them. Those limitations include maximum and perhaps minimum allowable speeds, the obligation to obey traffic signals, and the prohibition against crashing into fellow licensees because ‘they are in your way.’

    2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      See, there’s a difference between a technicality of wording, and the popular versus legal definitions used. The reality is – the powers of the state have been completely delegated from the queen to Canada’s PM, and thence to the provinces, the provincial agencies, and in this case – the police department. You can claim the Magna Carta justifies your actions, but the reality is that the Magna Carta is 800 years old and dealt with a totally different country that had a king who ruled unelected through the asserted divine right of kings. Slightly different from the current parliamentary democracy of Canada.

      All you’re looking for is a pseudolegal babbling excuse to justify your own ability to ignore rules that inconvenience you. “Wah, I don’t have the self control to justify getting a license, I’m just going to pretend it is unnecessary.” The reality is, if you took the time you spent writing up and reading this shitty made-up nonsense about being a slave versus a freeman, you’d actually have a legitimate license and you wouldn’t get arrested.

      But whatever, keep typing up lengthy, inaccurate screeds based on legal documents from the 13th century. Every minute you spend on your computer is a minute not spent on Queen Elizabeth’s roads.

    3. Chris says:

      “Those roads are not bought and paid for by a company called Canada.”

      If you don’t like the taxes and laws in Canada, leave. I hear that Somalia has no taxes, not much of a government and some very nice beaches. Go be a free loader there.

      Buh by! Don’t let the gate at the border hit your behind as you leave.

  33. Jack Harper says:

    You can not indulge in a privilege without abandoning your right.
    You can not claim “right of access” because you gave up the right in exchange for a privilege (licence).
    I reclaimed my rights by firing my so-called government reps.
    Canada is a representative democracy.
    Even if you do not vote you always get the letter after elections……”Hi I’m your new rep in government.”
    So, reason dictates: no rep= no government.
    Everything I have done is pursuant to the laws governing Canada.
    It really blows me away how little lawyers really know of court, the rules and procedure.
    They don’t give a rats ass what anyone does or says.
    They simply bully their way through with shyster moves and expect their fellow member (judge) of the bar to give them the green light.
    I was even told one time the crown lost the transcript for the trial I appealed.
    When the f%$k did you ever hear of that?
    They even came and seized my computer on orders from the mayor.
    The mayor was using public funds to conduct his own private matters with.
    I had to get a federal judge to order the cops to return it.
    Its a long story.
    A crazy story.
    Even some cops came to me and said this is crazy shit.
    I said “yes and this is just the tip of the iceburg”

    1. Chris says:

      Dear Free Loader,

      If you don’t like paying your way and abiding by actual laws, then please move to Somalia. You’ll love it there.

    2. Windriven says:

      Jack,
      This is a site dedicated to science-based medicine. It has been a bit of a hoot listening to your ravings about license (you really should learn to spell the word given the frequency with which you use it). But the show is over and now it is time to stick at least generally to the subject or toddle off.

      1. Chris says:

        Well the free loader was good for comic relief. Now he needs to pack his bags and toddle off to a beautiful country mostly free of government like Somalia.

    3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      I reclaimed my rights by firing my so-called government reps.

      So…which of your representatives left their posts on the basis of your actions? I’m guessing…none, right? They got your letter, went “WTF?”, then threw it in the garbage.

      So, reason dictates: no rep= no government.

      Except your rep is still there, right? And so is the government, right? Merely because you disagree with a political entity because it minorly inconveniences you doesn’t make it go away, and doesn’t make it lose its monopoly on violence which along with taxes is the main reason for a state to exist. You’re actually given considerable freedom – you can write incomprehensible and legally inaccurate letters to a state representative, inaccurately claim to not be a citizen of the country and be generally irksome, but you’re only actually bothered or punished when you break a law. Try your actions in Saudi Arabia, or North Korea, or China, and see what happens.

      Actually, in North Korea they might hire you to be the head of the supreme court.

      It really blows me away how little lawyers really know of court, the rules and procedure.

      I think you’re confusing “I don’t even know how to reply to this person who is not even wrong“, with ignorance. It’s quite possible that you are sufficiently ignorant of court policy that you don’t know the correct terms to use, their definitions, or court procedures. Chances are the judges feel sorry for you.

      I was even told one time the crown lost the transcript for the trial I appealed.
      When the f%$k did you ever hear of that?

      So…in your mind, an error is actually part of a vast conspiracy of an incompetent legal system, and not evidence of a clerical error? Well that is an interesting approach, one that seems to suit your self-image as some sort of outrageously important figure of modern politics rather than an unimportant pustule on society.

      What I find amusing and distasteful is how you are willing to exploit the systems put in place by society to bring fairness and equitability to human relations, while simultaneously badmouthing that system and attempting to use it to get what you want. It’s like you lack the actual courage of your convictions and just want some sort of theatre to add excitement to your day.

      A crazy story.

      I have absolutely zero difficulty believing that.

      By the way, here’s an outsider’s perspective – you said something offensive and potentially threatening. Because civil authorities cannot foresee the future or tell the difference between you and someone experiencing a frank psychotic break (or someone willing to commit violence to support their antisocial beliefs), an investigation was undertaken. Once it became clear that you were a self-important conman engaged in an elaborate and theatrical bluff rather than a danger to yourself or others, they gave you your stuff back.

      I think you create your own crazy, don’t appreciate the fact that all other humans are unable to read your mind to determine if precipitate violence will occur, and as a result get caught up in bizarre situations that you never push to actual violence.

      Probably because you’re afraid of it.

      1. Frederick says:

        You have so much patience answering a man like him, Kodos William. He want all the rights, and the privilege without the expense and responsibilities. We have a Expression Here for that ” Il veut le beurre et l’argent du beurre”.

        1. Windriven says:

          “He want all the rights, and the privilege without the expense and responsibilities.”

          Apparently Stevie couldn’t make it as a Doctor of Internal Medicine so he slithered into the netherworld of quackery where, for all intents and purposes, there are no objective measures of competence.

        2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          “He wants the butter and the butter money”? My grasp of idiomatic French clearly isn’t whimsical enough :)

          Freemen are so spectacularly crazy, such an incredible caricature of clueless idiocy, such a delight of ignominy, that I greatly enjoy any excuse I can get to mock them. Finding out Jack was a Freeman was like finding a free hooker coupon stuck to the $100 bill I just pulled out of a giant bag of cocaine that I just tripped over.*

          *Note – If I did find such a collection of items, I would wash and keep the money, give the coupon to a homeless gentleman I pass on my way to the bus whom looks clean-cut and washed, and leave the cocaine there. Because I’m a citizen of the world.

          1. Frederick says:

            “Finding out Jack was a Freeman was like finding a free hooker coupon stuck to the $100 bill I just pulled out of a giant bag of cocaine that I just tripped over.*

            *Note – If I did find such a collection of items, I would wash and keep the money, give the coupon to a homeless gentleman I pass on my way to the bus whom looks clean-cut and washed, and leave the cocaine there. Because I’m a citizen of the world”

            LOL Man, That was a funny one, I have a mental image of the whole scene. :-) But It depends, If cocaine it is SPACE cocaine, ( That joke is related to the Weed article ;-) ) I might think twice about throwing it out lol. Oh By the way your translation is correct. We use that expression when someone want everything but without the consequences/price etc. That Jack Harper dude fits in there perfectly.

            1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

              I’m kinda glad he stopped posting, because if he kept it up I would be so tired my dog would be dead.

              See what I did there?

              1. Frederick says:

                LOL I just learned another English expression :-)

              2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                Daw, then I missed my mark. I was under the impression that “mon chien est mort” was a Quebecoise expression :(

              3. Frederick says:

                LOL Yes it is! really, we use it when you had a opportunity to do something but you lose it, well something like that.

                I thought it was the dog-tired expression :-) I was confused lol.

  34. Jesús R. says:

    In the end, what bayesians are proposing is that test are not made in isolation, but inserting them into the whole evidence on the subject. That is, after an experiment, authors must perform a review on the subject (figure out the prior probability), and not just let the others do the systematic reviews.

  35. Jesús R. says:

    There’s something I don’t get:

    “the p-value tells us the probability of the data given the null hypothesis, but what we really want to know is the probability of the hypothesis given the data”

    Either the hypothesis or the null hypothesis is true (either there is or there isn’t a relationship between the two variables). Therefore, if the probability of the data is low given the null hypothesis, that means that the null hypothesis is unlikely. Given that the hypothesis is the only alternative to the null hypothesis, then the data does in fact suggest that the hypothesis is likely, isn’t it?

    1. rork says:

      Yes, it means the (alternative) hypothesis has greater probability than it did before you saw the data, no matter what your prior is/was. It doesn’t tell you how big that (posterior) probability is unless you combine it with your prior though.

    2. Jay says:

      If the probability of the data is low given the null hypothesis, that means that the null hypothesis is unlikely.

      No, that is false. It’s falsity can be demonstrated with a simple counterexample. Imagine a lab that researches nothing but false research hypotheses (say, a homeopathy lab or an ESP lab). If the lab conducts all its experiments at the 5% level of significance, then 5% of its experiments will result in p-values less than .05; indeed 1% of its experiments will result in p-values less than .01, and .1% of its experiments will result in p-values less than .001. Nonetheless, despite these low probabilities the null hypothesis will be true. This shows that a low p-value, which indicates data that are improbable under the null hypothesis, does not imply that the null hypothesis is unlikely. The likelihood of the null hypothesis, given new data, depends not only on the probability of the data under the null hypothesis but on the prior probability of the null hypothesis. Thus a p-value alone cannot lead to a conclusion about the probability that a hypothesis is true. The prior probability must be taken into account.

  36. Michael says:

    I’m a bit puzzled by the math here. Maybe someone can point out my error.

    Let H=null hypothesis, B=background knowledge, E=evidence from a specific study. Suppose P(H|B) = 0.9, i.e., 9:1 prior odds in favor of the null hypothesis. Suppose further that the p value from the study is 0.01 giving P(E|B+H) = 0.01, i.e., the study shows that the observed evidence would only occur by chance in 1% of cases if the null hypothesis were true. I’m not sure about P(E|B-H), the probability that the evidence would be observed if the null hypothesis was false (i.e., the treatment really works), but it should presumably be large, so use P(E|B-H) = 1.

    In that case, I get P(H|B+E) = 0.082…, indicating that the confidence in the null hypothesis is somewhat low as a result of the study. This seems to contradict what Steve wrote in the conclusion.

    Did I make an error here?

    1. rork says:

      “Suppose further that the p value from the study is 0.01 giving P(E|B+H) = 0.01″ is a problem. B shouldn’t be in there. The P-value doesn’t depend on my prior. Try reading about Bayes’ Theorem on wikipedia or others, where typesetting of equations is better than in the comments section of this blog.

      P(H/E) = P(H)*P(E/H)/P(E)
      P(H) is my prior, P(E/H) is the likelihood (not the p-value), P(E) can often be computed as P(E/H0)*P(H0) + P(E/H1)*P(H1) if H0 and H1 are the null and alternative hypotheses and are point masses, otherwise one usually has to integrate some expression like P(E/X)*P(X) over X, where X is the value of a parameter like the difference in the means, and P(X) is our prior on X.

      1. Michael says:

        Thanks for the reply. Actually, I did read the wikipedia article, but I base my notation on that used by Richard Carrier in a lecture he gave a few years back at Skepticon and on his Bayes calculator web page
        http://www.richardcarrier.info/bayescalculator.html

        If you eliminate the B (background) notation from the equation as Carrier writes it, you get the same form as shown on the wikipedia. Personally, I like Carrier’s use of P(H|B) as the notation for the prior probability, instead of P(H), which seems ambiguous.

        It seems that the article is somewhat misleading. That’s always a danger when numerical examples aren’t worked out.

        1. Jay says:

          Michael,

          Let’s first write out Bayes’ Theorem, leaving the background term out for simplicity.

          P(H1|E) = P(E|H1)P(H1) / [P(E|H1)P(H1) + P(E|H0)P(H0)]

          Here, H1 is the alternative hypothesis, H0 is the null hypothesis, and E evidence from the present study. Thus the term on the left-hand side of the equation is the posterior probability of the alternative hypothesis; P(H1) and P(H0) are the prior probabilities of the alternative an null hypotheses, respectively; and P(E|H1) and P(E|H0) are the probabilities of the newly observed data under the alternative and null hypotheses, respectively.

          You’ve made two mistakes in your analysis: a relatively minor one, and a big one. The relatively minor mistake is using the p-value for P(E|H1). The p-value is the probability that the data, or more extreme data would be observed under the null hypothesis. However, more extreme data than that actually observed are irrelevant in Bayesian inference; all that matters is the data that were actually observed. Thus P(E|H0) is the probability of the actually observed data under the null. (Note that if the data are measured on a continuous scale, then P(E|H0) is not a true probability, but a likelihood, the height of the joint probability density function of the data at its observed value.) Similarly, P(E|H1) is the probability (or likelihood) of the data under the alternative hypothesis.

          This brings us to your major mistake. A low probability of the data under the null does not imply that the probability of the data under the alternative hypothesis is high. In fact, no matter how improbable the data is under the null, it can be even less probable under the alternative hypothesis. One shortcoming of classical significance testing is that it does not allow for this possibility. A classical significance test only evaluates the probability of the data under one of the two competing hypotheses, the null, and assumes (wrongly) that if the data are unlikely under the null that we should “reject” the null, and “accept” the alternative hypothesis.

          The problem exists because in classical significance testing, a concrete alternative hypothesis is not specified; rather the alternative is taken to be the complement of the null. By contrast, in Bayesian testing, the alternative hypothesis must be concretely specified. If we think that drug A works better than placebo, we have to specify a range of values for how much better we think it works and place a probability distribution over those values. If the results of our experiment show a small effect for the drug over the placebo that is “significant” under classical testing, if we had hypothesized that the drug would have a large effect, and hence that a small effect would have low probability under our alternative hypothesis, a Bayesian test could conclude that the posterior probability in favor of the drug is less than was its prior; that is that the data support the null over the alternative.

          1. Jay says:

            Oops. Typo.

            Sentence should read: “You’ve made two mistakes in your analysis: a relatively minor one, and a big one. The relatively minor mistake is using the p-value for P(E|H0).”

            1. Michael says:

              Thanks for the detailed reply. Can you recommend a good book that delves into these subjects in more detail?

  37. Jay says:

    There are a few papers I can think of. A Practical Solution to the Pervasive Problem of P-values, which is freely available from the website of the author, E-J Wagenmakers. And two articles by Steven Goodman from the Annals of Internal Medicine that are behind a paywall: “Toward Evidence-Based Medical Statistics” Part 1: The P-value Fallacy and Part 2: The Bayes Factor

    1. Jay says:

      The above is a reply to Michael.

      1. Michael says:

        Thanks again, Jay. I’ll look up the first article.

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