February 7, 2018
McElreath, R. Statistical Rethinking: A Bayesian Course with Examples in R and Stan. (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis Group, 2016).
A golem (goh-lem) is a clay robot known in Jewish folklore, constructed from dust and fire and water. It is brought to life by inscribing emet, Hebrew for “truth,” on its brow.
Scientists also make golems. Our golems rarely have physical form, but they too are often made of clay, living in silicon as computer code.
For some, the toolbox of pre-manufactured golems is all they will ever need.
The classical procedures of introductory statistics tend to be inflexible and fragile.
Instead, what researchers need is some unified theory of golem engineering, a set of principles for designing, building, and refining special-purpose statistical procedures.
Instead, we need some statistical epistemology, an appreciation of how statistical models relate to hypotheses and the natural mechanisms of interest.
All models are wrong; some models are useful. - George Box
If it turns out that all of the process models of interest make very similar predictions, then you know to search for a different description of the evidence, a description under which the processes look different.
First, observations are prone to error, especially at the boundaries of scientific knowledge. Second, most hypotheses are quantitative, concerning degrees of existence, rather than discrete, concerning total presence or absence.