0.05 or 0.005? P-value Wars Continue

Over the years Major League Baseball has tweaked the dimensions of the field, specifically the distance and height of the pitcher’s mound and the area of the strike zone. They did this in order to adjust the balance between pitchers and hitters, mostly to shift the balance toward hitters to make games more exciting for the fans.

Scientists are debating similar tweaks to statistical significance, to adjust the balance between false positives and false negatives. As with pitchers and batters, some changes are a zero-sum game – if you lower false positives, you increase false negatives, and vice versa. Where the perfect balance lies is a complicated question and the increasing subject of debate.

A recent paper (available in preprint) by a long list of authors, including some heavy hitters like John P.A. Ioannidis, suggests that the p-value that is typically used for the threshold of statistical significance, be changes in

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