Up from ‘false positives’ in genetic—and other—epidemiology
- Olli S. Miettinen
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Published ‘positive’ results of epidemiological studies on possible associations (descriptive or causal) are ever more commonly ‘false positives’ and, thus, false warrants for claiming discovery. More common examination of a multitude of possible associations is widely seen to be the principal cause of this trend. I dispute this explanation and take the principal basis for the trend to be the ever decreasing prior plausibility of the associations that are reported on; and publication bias leading to missing ‘negatives’ in the published results exacerbates the appearance of the problem. The problem is, however, eminently remediable. We epidemiologists, as a collective of researchers, should leave behind the decision-oriented, inference-denying cult of statistical ‘significance’ adduced by Neyman and Pearson, and in its stead we should embrace the Fisherian culture of focusing on the production of statistical evidence, for use in inference by our readers. I recommend a simple, objective measure of evidence, suitable for readers’ Bayesian-type inferences about the existence of an association.
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- Up from ‘false positives’ in genetic—and other—epidemiology
European Journal of Epidemiology
Volume 24, Issue 1 , pp 1-5
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Springer Netherlands
- Additional Links
- Bayes factor
- False positives
- Genetic epidemiology
- Multiple comparisons
- Significance testing
- Industry Sectors
- Olli S. Miettinen (1) (2) (3)
- Author Affiliations
- 1. Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, McGill University, 1020 Avenue des Pins ouest, Montreal, QC, Canada, H3A 1A2
- 2. Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, 1020 Avenue des Pins ouest, Montreal, QC, Canada, H3A 1A2
- 3. Department of Medicine, Weill Medical College, Cornell University, New York, NY, USA