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Concerns regarding a call for pluralism of information theory and hypothesis testing

Journal of Applied Ecology

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Abstract

1. Stephens et al . (2005) argue for `pluralism? in statistical analysis, combining null hypothesis testing and information-theoretic (I-T) methods. We show that I-T methods are more informative even in single variable problems and we provide an ecological example. 2. I-T methods allow inferences to be made from multiple models simultaneously. We believe multimodel inference is the future of data analysis, which cannot be achieved with null hypothesis-testing approaches. 3. We argue for a stronger emphasis on critical thinking in science in general and less reliance on exploratory data analysis and data dredging. Deriving alternative hypotheses is central to science; deriving a single interesting science hypothesis and then comparing it to a default null hypothesis (e.g. `no difference?) is not an efficient strategy for gaining knowledge. We think this single-hypothesis strategy has been relied upon too often in the past. 4. We clarify misconceptions presented by Stephens et al . (2005). 5. We think inference should be made about models, directly linked to scientific hypotheses, and their parameters conditioned on data, Prob(Hj| data). I-T methods provide a basis for this inference. Null hypothesis testing merely provides a probability statement about the data conditioned on a null model, Prob(data |H0). 6. Synthesis and applications. I-T methods provide a more informative approach to inference. I-T methods provide a direct measure of evidence for or against hypotheses and a means to consider simultaneously multiple hypotheses as a basis for rigorous inference. Progress in our science can be accelerated if modern methods can be used intelligently; this includes various I-T and Bayesian methods.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Concerns regarding a call for pluralism of information theory and hypothesis testing
Series title:
Journal of Applied Ecology
Volume
44
Issue:
2
Year Published:
2007
Language:
English
Contributing office(s):
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description:
456-460
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Journal of Applied Ecology
First page:
456
Last page:
460
Number of Pages:
5