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Physics P-Hacking

The videos discusses something that I suggested awhile back. Epidemiology is being used in physics.

Re: Physics P-Hacking

The 'p-value' idea is used in particle physics, but that doesn't mean that particle physics is particularly similar to epidemiology. An essential aspect of particle physics, and much of physics in general, is that is uses carefully constructed theories to interpret experimental data, and theory is often used to design the experiments in the first place, whereas epidemiology is working completely in the dark trying to find patterns in chaotic experimental data.

One definition of epidemiology given by Wikipedia is: "Epidemiology is the study and analysis of the patterns, causes, and effects of health and disease conditions in defined populations. It is the cornerstone of public health, and shapes policy decisions and evidence-based practice by identifying risk factors for disease and targets for preventive healthcare."

There is some work carried out in physics which looks for patterns in experimental data without having much in the way of a prior theory to explain what is going on, and that might be said to be more similar to epidemiology. There was a journal called "Pattern Recognition in Physics" that covered this line of work:

pattern recognition

This journal was started up a few years ago by Copernicus Publications, but under pressure from the scientific establishment Copernicus dropped the journal after less than a year, and I believe it now exists in a privately funded form. The reason the journal was killed off is because a lot of these pattern recognition people tend to be climate change sceptics.

I suppose a famous historical example of the idea of pattern recognition in physics would be Bode's Law (or the Titius-Bode Law) which establishes a pattern in the distances of planets in our solar system from the Sun. There is no accepted theory to explain the pattern and the law doesn't hold for all planets in the solar system.

Re: Physics P-Hacking


I really shouldn't have said p-hacking. There was just an example in the video of physicist getting caught in a cycle of replication that never replicated.

In this case science finally caught up and said "Wait a sec...."

It did not happen immediately. All I really get from this is a big hesitation in my step for every "discovery".

I start to look like a luddite from time to time.

We have an XBox 360 in our house now ($25). There is a headset that can be had. My addled brain thought, I can put the kids in headsets so the noise doesn't cause me to go bonkers. I start reading the questions and answers on Amazon and find that other people had the same idea (shocking isn't it that parents don't want to hear the noise coming out of a console). The headsets only let through "chat". The sound still comes out of the television. At first, I was a little bit irked at the "stupidity" of microsoft for making such a stupid decision. Then I backed off and realized that the decision probably had solid reasons behind it. Not least of the reasons is that the modern console is not as often a multiplayer (on one console) as it is a multiplayer situation on the net. That changed the nature of the decision.

My own circumstance is not unique, but it is no longer in the majority. If you are playing online with your PS4/XBox360/One/PS3 then you are doing it with the full screen being yours....

There is still a solution to my problem, but it involves mixers and cables.. (this mixer might be as complicated as a Y cable).

There is a sales side and utility side. The sales side tells us what we want to hear. The utility side figures out how to get what we want.

The particle physicists have to be every bit as wary of the vagaries of p-values as the epidemiologists. I should say more wary. The epidemiologists don't see to be wary at all.

I don't know if I actually said anything. I might just be in a simulated world... Musk says there is a very small chance that I am not in a simulated world....