The language of insignificance

Via andrewgelman.com   Article

“Jonathan Falk points me to an amusing post by Matthew Hankins giving synonyms for ‘not statistically significant.’ Hankins writes:

The following list is culled from peer-reviewed journal articles in which (a) the authors set themselves the threshold of 0.05 for significance, (b) failed to achieve that threshold value for p and (c) described it in such a way as to make it seem more interesting.

And here are some examples:

slightly significant (p=0.09)
sufficiently close to significance (p=0.07)
trending towards significance (p>0.15)
trending towards significant (p=0.099)
vaguely significant (p>0.2)
verged on being significant (p=0.11)
verging on significance (p=0.056)
weakly statistically significant (p=0.0557)
well-nigh significant (p=0.11)

Lots more at the link.

This is great, but I do disagree with one thing in the post, which is where Hankins writes: ‘if you do [play the significance testing game], the rules are simple: the result is either significant or it isn’t.’

I don’t like this; I think the idea that it’s a ‘game’ with wins and losses is a big part of the problem! More on this point in our ‘power = .06’ post.”

 

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