Beer and Stats: Chicago Magazine covers Ziliak’s Guinness Experiment

by Shaun Manning on February 10, 2012

CultStephen T. Ziliak, co-author with Deirdre n. McCloskey of The Cult of Statistical Significance: How the Standard Error Costs Us Jobs, Justice, and Lives, is the subject of a Chicago Magazine blog post on “Guinness beer and Guinnessometrics.” The Chicago piece summarizes Ziliak’s paper in the Journal of Wine Economics, which focuses on the work on an early 20th-century chemist-turned-brewer at Guinness. After a discussion of the experiments undertaken by William Sealy Gosset–aka “Student”–testing the three main ingredients for stout, Ziliak comes around to a conclusion that is very much in keeping with the argument of U-M Press book, that there is a qualitative element to such experiments that goes beyond what can be measured by statistical significance.

“The most famous result of Student’s experimental method is Student’s t-table. But the real end of Student’s inquiry was taste, quality control, and minimally efficient sample sizes for experimental Guinness – not to achieve statistical significance at the .05 level or, worse yet, boast about an artificially randomized experiment,” Ziliak reported.

Read the full article Chicago article here, or Ziliak’s essay here. The Cult of Statistical Significance is available now from University of Michigan Press.

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