Andrew is so accustomed to my typos, he likely realized I was about to type “uncertainty” but being distracted by the opportunity of creating a great phrase, I transmuted my typing into “opportunity” – patent pending ;-)

]]>I do think its unlikely that a senior statistician would choose to be misled by the familiar phenomenon of “regression to the mean” — if they were aware of it.

Now I got caught by that same oversight early in my career and when I ran it by the most seasoned applied statistician at the University of Toronto at the time they also missed it. Now, when I debriefed them when the oversight was pointed out to me (by a clinician!), they were very embarrassed.

Why are these oversights so common as Frank suggest – a curriculum that is mainly about learning math in the context with little to no application context, almost complete lack of professional training, mentor-ship, peer review of on going day to day work, etc., etc. (Statistical review in a non-stats journal is usually a joke.) Until quite recently, most stats depts assigned the weakest faculty member to run the “lab course” and direct the statistical consulting service (3 out of the 4 in my convenience sample).

I was fortunate to be able to run my work by that seasoned applied statistician for the first dozen years of my work. I also sat through a statistics course almost every term.

I have met statisticians who have for many years worked with only non-statisticians who believed they knew it all and then changed jobs where other statistician got to see what they did and they have to go through the five stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance regarding their past work and current abilities.

These days, one can regularly read a blog like this (even some comments) and do much better – well here if they read Andrew’s second linked paper.

]]>Even senior people have finite resources of time, patience and energy. They may not choose to use them putting the perfect in the way of the possible.

]]>As Keith, I do think that there must be statistical concepts not known to statisticians & non-statisticians.

]]>“Insurmountable uncertainty”—what a great phrase!

]]>From Frank’s blog post you reference:

A win: “Interestingly, when the concept [blinded RCT] was explained to patients, they agreed to participate more easily than we thought, and dropped out less frequently than we feared. This means we should indeed acquire placebo-controlled data on interventional procedures.”

Insurmountable opportunity: “two challenges: (1) there is a lot of between-statistician variation that statisticians need to address, and (2) there are many fundamental statistical concepts that are not known to many statisticians (witness the widespread use of change scores and dichotomization of variables even when senior statisticians are among a paper’s authors)”

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