Wednesday, May 21, 2014

"Scientism" and "Statisticism"

Philosopher/logician Deborah Mayo wrote a week ago about an upcoming conference on "scientism"… the term often loosely used almost as an epithet for the over-reliance on, or over-confidence in, the scientific method. She sees it as especially being tied into the modern reliance on statistics or what she terms "statisticism" or "statistics as window dressing" (and by extrapolation, one can reference the even more recent reverence for "big data"):

From the piece:
"...'getting philosophical' about uncertain inference is not articulating rarified concepts divorced from statistical practice, but providing tools to avoid obfuscating philosophically tinged notions about evidence, induction, testing, and objectivity/subjectivity, while offering a critical illumination of flaws and foibles surrounding technical statistical concepts. To warrant empirical methods of inquiry­–both in day-to-day learning or science –- demands assessing and controlling misleading, biased, and erroneous interpretations of data. But such a meta-level scrutiny is itself theory-laden -– only here the theories are philosophical. Understanding and resolving these issues, I argue, calls for interdisciplinary work linking philosophers of science, statistical practitioners, and science journalists."
Following the conference she posted this summary update:

If you can find the time it's worth working your way through her slide show (46 slides).

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