Topics: Thermodynamics, Statistical hypothesis testing, Entropy Pages: 2 (622 words) Published: April 21, 2015
Naimun Siraj
Response 1

Dr. Veronica Vieland: Measuring Statistical Evidence in Biological Research

This lecture really resonated with me because I have taken a yearlong course on thermodynamics and know a bit about statistical thermodynamics. A very important topic that was discussed was the idea of the p value, which is a value that is used to make sense of a statistical hypothesis. The significance of the p value on statistical evidence is something that needs to be revaluated due to its complicated and fluctuating nature. Although p values and likelihood ratios do give valid statistical solutions, they sometimes tend to sway away from the accumulated hypothesis. In regards to human genetics, Dr. Vieland believes that the statistical evidences lead to “undesirable properties” when dealing with complex disorders. This leads to further scientific ignorance and perhaps a new approach is of the essence in order to break this shell of ignorance.

The analogy of understanding temperature measurement shows the significance of statistical evidence measurement and how hard it actually is to develop sensible statistics. Before my thermodynamics course, I was in a state of ignorance regarding how temperature is actually measured. I thought like everyone else; if the environment is hot the high temperature is associated with a higher value and if it’s cold the temperature is associated with a lower value. This understanding of temperature was primitive and required a thorough understanding of thermodynamics to truly understand what these values meant. Similarly, when p values and likelihood ratios are discussed in statistical evidence, we associate these values with observations and do not truly know what might be going on in the background. It seems that these p values and likelihood ratios are a comfortable area where statistical evidence lights up on the surface, but gets darker as you probe deeper into it.

It is amazing how we can reference...

References: [1] Vieland, V. J., and S. E. Hodge. “Measurement of Statistical Evidence on an Absolute Scale following Thermodynamic Principles”. Theory Bioscience, 5 Mar. 2013. Web. 23 Mar. 2015.
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