, Volume 90, Issue 2, pp 233-262

Did Pearson reject the Neyman-Pearson philosophy of statistics?

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Abstract

I document some of the main evidence showing that E. S. Pearson rejected the key features of the behavioral-decision philosophy that became associated with the Neyman-Pearson Theory of statistics (NPT). I argue that NPT principles arose not out of behavioral aims, where the concern is solely with behaving correctly sufficiently often in some long run, but out of the epistemological aim of learning about causes of experimental results (e.g., distinguishing genuine from spurious effects). The view Pearson did hold gives a deeper understanding of NPT tests than their typical formulation as ‘accept-reject routines’, against which criticisms of NPT are really directed. The ‘Pearsonian’ view that emerges suggests how NPT tests may avoid these criticisms while still retaining what is central to these methods: the control of error probabilities.