The Cult of Statistical Significance

22 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2010

See all articles by Walter Kraemer

Walter Kraemer

University of Dortmund - Department of Statistics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Date Written: November 18, 2010

Abstract

This article takes issue with a recent book by Ziliak and McCloskey (2008) of the same title. Ziliak and McCloskey argue that statistical significance testing is a barrier rather than a booster for empirical research in many fields and should therefore be abandoned altogether. The present article argues that this is good advice in some research areas but not in others. Taking all issues which have appeared so far of the German Economic Review and a recent epidemiological meta-analysis as examples, it shows that there has indeed been a lot of misleading work in the context of significance testing, and that at the same time many promising avenues for fruitfully employing statistical significance tests, disregarded by Ziliak and McCloskey, have not been used.

Keywords: significance testing

JEL Classification: A00

Suggested Citation

Kraemer, Walter, The Cult of Statistical Significance (November 18, 2010). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 3246, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1711108

Walter Kraemer (Contact Author)

University of Dortmund - Department of Statistics ( email )

D-44221 Dortmund
Germany
0231 755-3125 (Phone)
0231 755-5284 (Fax)

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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