Thursday, December 4, 2008

Holes in Medical Statistics Part 1: Understanding the P value through Poker

Is there a misunderstanding about the use and interpretation of P values and hypothesis testing? An excellent set of articles written by SN Goodman makes this case. This is the first in a series of blog entries to help illustrate the points in these papers.

To help clarify the concept of the P value, I will start with a contrived poker example:

Let's say you're in Las Vegas hoping for a little enjoyment and to win some cash. You enter one of the seedier downtown casinos and find a new game. It's called "Huslyall". The dealer is rather unkempt, wears an eyepatch and has a hook replacing his left hand.



  1. Mike just an outstanding post...I'm doing some research right now and actually trying to learn about statistics and the misinterpretation of data is so rampant.

  2. Dr. Laidlaw.
    That was an excellent lession in the premise of P values.
    It appears that all studies should first start justifying the null hypothesis first before trying to measure the effect.

  3. Thanks very much for your feedback guys. Glad you liked it. I've spent a couple of weeks going over this issue in depth. Hopefully the next few posts will be helpful as well.


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