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The Nature of Scientific EvidenceStatistical, Philosophical, and Empirical Considerations$
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Mark L. Taper and Subhash R. Lele

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780226789552

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226789583.001.0001

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The Nature of Scientific Evidence: A Forward-Looking Synthesis

The Nature of Scientific Evidence: A Forward-Looking Synthesis

(p.527) 16 The Nature of Scientific Evidence: A Forward-Looking Synthesis
The Nature of Scientific Evidence

Mark L. Taper

Subhash R. Lele

University of Chicago Press

A method that has proved extremely successful in the history of science is to take ideas about how nature works, whether obtained deductively or inductively, and translate them into quantitative statements. These statements, then, can be compared with the realizations of the processes under study. The main two schools of statistical thought, frequentist and Bayesian statistics, do not address the question of evidence explicitly. This chapter summarizes various approaches to quantifying scientific evidence and compares them to Bayesian and frequentist statistics. It discusses ideas on model adequacy and model selection in the context of quantifying evidence and explores the role and scope of the use of expert opinion. Replication is usually highly desirable but in many ecological experiments difficult to obtain. How can one quantify evidence obtained from unreplicated data? Nuisance parameters, composite hypotheses, and outliers are realities of nature. Finally, the chapter raises a number of important unresolved issues, such as using evidence to make decisions without resorting to subjective probability.

Keywords:   science, scientific evidence, frequentist statistics, Bayesian statistics, model adequacy, model selection, expert opinion, replication, nuisance parameters, outliers

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