What experiment did we just do? Counterfactual error statistics and uncertainties about the reference class
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophy of Science 69 (2):279-299 (2002)
Experimenters sometimes insist that it is unwise to examine data before determining how to analyze them, as it creates the potential for biased results. I explore the rationale behind this methodological guideline from the standpoint of an error statistical theory of evidence, and I discuss a method of evaluating evidence in some contexts when this predesignation rule has been violated. I illustrate the problem of potential bias, and the method by which it may be addressed, with an example from the search for the top quark. A point in favor of the error statistical theory is its ability, demonstrated here, to explicate such methodological problems and suggest solutions, within the framework of an objective theory of evidence.
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