[Martin Taylor 2006.12.17.22.26]

[From Rick Marken (2006.12.17.1455)]

Bill Powers (2006.12.17.1350 Mst)--

My basic objection to the uses of statistics is not the statistical calculations themselves, but the way people let themselves settle for statistical truths when, with a little more effort, they could be aspiring to obtain real knowledge. It's too easy to blame fuzzy results on nature ("behavior is inherently variable") when the real problem is an inadequate theory. But getting clear results often means keeping the subject matter simple, and that just isn't sexy enough for many people.

I, of course, completely agree.

Of course. And I partially agree. I would agree completely if we insert the word "often" in the end of Bill's 3rd last line, after "the real problem".

Even a perfectly complete and correct theory will lead to variable (not "fuzzy", which has a different technical meaning) results if not all the boundary conditions are precisely specified.

If the effects on X are completely specified by X = ax + by +cz, and you can only measure x and y precisley, the variation in the unobservable values of z will lead to variation in X, despite that the theory is perfect. The same applies if the parameter values a, b, c aren't precisely known.

I do agree, however, with a lot of the time "people let themselves settle for statistical truths when, with a little more effort, they could be aspiring to obtain real knowledge".

Martin