Inference and Proof

When reading research reports, you will encounter many articles in which the researchers will talk as if they have discovered something definitive. The researchers' assertions typically reduce to the claim that "the data confirm our expectations, so now we have proof that our research hypotheses were correct." Resist the temptation to bow down in front of such researchers and swallow hook, line, and sinker everything and anything they might say, simply because they have used fancy statistical techniques when analyzing their data. Remember that inferences are always involved whenever (1) confidence intervals are placed around means or differences between means and (2) null hypotheses involving one or two means are evaluated. Nothing is proven by any of these techniques, regardless of how bold the researchers' claims might be.

(From Chapter 10, pp. 256-257)

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Schuyler W. Huck
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