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Epidemiology. 2013 Jan;24(1):62-8. doi: 10.1097/EDE.0b013e3182785741.

Living with p values: resurrecting a Bayesian perspective on frequentist statistics.

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Department of Epidemiology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


In response to the widespread abuse and misinterpretation of significance tests of null hypotheses, some editors and authors have strongly discouraged P values. However, null P values still thrive in most journals and are routinely misinterpreted as probabilities of a "chance finding" or of the null, when they are no such thing. This misuse may be lessened by recognizing correct Bayesian interpretations. For example, under weak priors, 95% confidence intervals approximate 95% posterior probability intervals, one-sided P values approximate directional posterior probabilities, and point estimates approximate posterior medians. Furthermore, under certain conditions, a one-sided P value for a prior median provides an approximate lower bound on the posterior probability that the point estimate is on the wrong side of that median. More generally, P values can be incorporated into a modern analysis framework that emphasizes measurement of fit, distance, and posterior probability in place of "statistical significance" and accept/reject decisions.

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