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Ziliak and McClosky?s Criticisms of Significance Tests: A Damage Assessment

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  • Thomas Mayer

    (Department of Economics, University of California Davis)

Abstract

D. N. McCloskey and Stephen Ziliak have criticized economists and others for confounding statistical and substantive significance, and for committing the logical error of the transposed conditional. In doing so they sometimes misinterpret the function of significance tests. Nonetheless, economists sometimes make both of these errors ? but not nearly as often as Ziliak and McCloskey claim. They also argue ?incorrectly ? that the existence of an effect, which is what significance tests are about, is not a scientific question. Their complaint that in testing significance economists often do not take the loss function into account is unfounded. But they are right in arguing that confidence intervals should be presented more frequently.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Mayer, 2012. "Ziliak and McClosky?s Criticisms of Significance Tests: A Damage Assessment," Working Papers 126, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:cda:wpaper:12-6
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    File URL: http://wp.econ.ucdavis.edu/12-6.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Libman, Alexander & Zweynert, Joachim, 2014. "Ceremonial science: The state of Russian economics seen through the lens of the work of ‘Doctor of Science’ candidates," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 360-378.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Significance tests; ts; confidence intervals; Zilliak; McCloskey; oomph;

    JEL classification:

    • C12 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Hypothesis Testing: General
    • B4 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology

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