P-values fascinate me. How can one little geeky number elicit so much emotion from people, and cause so much misunderstanding? I first waded into the p-value quagmire with my 2014 feature for Nature and continued it with my work facilitating the American Statistical Association working group that produced the 2016 Statement on P-values. I particularly love how so many people can learn about p-values – especially how they’re not the posterior of the null hypothesis – and then when they’re pressed to summarize what a p-value is, they say something like, “It’s the probability that the data results were a random fluke.” Sigh. It’s like our brains really want to be Bayesian even if our hearts are hard-core frequentists.

Regina Nuzzo, Ph.D.
Stats Professor and Science Journalist


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