Accession Number : AD0707038

Title :   SOME THOUGHTS ON THE USE AND MISUSE OF STATISTICAL INFERENCE,

Corporate Author : RAND CORP SANTA MONICA CALIF

Personal Author(s) : Strauch,Ralph E.

Report Date : 12 MAY 1970

Pagination or Media Count : 17

Abstract : The document contains a discussion of the abuse of techniques of statistical inference resulting from inadequate attention to the relationship between the model used and the real world problem being addressed, and inappropriate interpretation of conclusions in the light of that relationship. The basic principle underlying all statistical inference is that one attempts to distinguish between alternatives by comparing observed behavior with that predicted by predictive models of those alternatives. The use of predictive models which do not describe the behavior of the alternatives between which one wishes to distinguish is a clear violation of that principle. The principle is illustrated in a discussion of sampling from an urn. The technique of causal inference through partial correlation analysis is discussed as an example of the violation of this principle. On the surface this technique appears to have wide applicability in analyses in support of policy studies, but further examination shows its applicability to be somewhere between highly questionable and totally specious. (Author)

Descriptors :   (*STATISTICAL ANALYSIS, DECISION THEORY), MATHEMATICAL MODELS, CORRELATION TECHNIQUES, MONTE CARLO METHOD, SAMPLING

Subject Categories : Statistics and Probability

Distribution Statement : APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE