Statistical Laws

I was clearing out some old files in my office this weekend when I came across a collection of notes from my early years in grad school. One set was from a graduate statistics course taught by my current advisor, George Wolford. On the last day of the course his goal was to give us a set of key principles to guide our future endeavors. He listed eight statments by Robert Abelson, author of Statistics as Principled Argument, and also listed the eight statements that he lives by. I replicate the text below, as they continue to be valid and useful.

Robert Abelson’s Laws:
1. Chance is lumpy
2. Overconfidence abhors uncertainty
3. Never flout a convention just once
4. Don’t talk greek if you don’t know the english translation
5. If you don’t have anything to say, don’t say anything
6. There is no free hunch
7. You can’t see the dust if you don’t move the couch
8. Criticism is the mother of methodology

George Wolford’s Laws:
1. Chance is lumpy
2. Think about the dependent measure
3. Fit the design and analysis to the question
4. Look at the raw data
5. Use error bars and measures of effect size
6. State hypothesis a priori and test as such
7. Protect Type I error in every way possible
8. Do simplest appropriate test

October 16, 2007 • Posted in: Statistics

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