Monday, January 23, 2006

Statistics, Schmamistics

So Derek Lowe of In the Pipeline has this piece up on the Medical Progress Today site, about how the pharmaceutical industry is falling in sweet, sweet love... with Bayesian statistics.

It's a very interesting read, but I greatly suffer from my lack of knowledge of intermediate to advanced statistics. He does a good job of getting the general points across, but then I read sections like this:

Here's an illustration: Imagine a drawer full of socks, some white and some black. If you think you have a technique for picking out black socks without looking, you could test that by first closing your eyes and taking out ten socks in a row totally at random. That would give you your null-hypothesis data set. Then you would mix the socks up again, close your eyes, pick ten according to your best black-sock-selecting technique, then open your eyes and see how well you did.

That's a frequentist approach to the problem, run just like a basic clinical trial would be. Each difference you might find between your selected group and the random group would have a different P value (the bigger the difference, the lower the value, naturally).

And then I remember how much educational analogies make me want to bang my head into a wall. So for now, I'll just cry myself to sleep every night in sorrow at my lack of understanding of R-Squared.

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