The False Positive Risk: A Proposal Concerning What to Do About p-Values

David Colquhoun
2019 American Statistician  
It is widely acknowledged that the biomedical literature suffer from a surfeit of false positive results. Part of the reason for this is the persistence of the myth that observation of a p value less than 0.05 is sufficient justification to claim that you've made a discovery. It is hopeless to expect users to change their reliance on p values unless they are offered an alternative way of judging the reliability of their conclusions. If the alternative method is to have a chance of being adopted
more » ... ce of being adopted widely, it will have to be easy to understand and to calculate. One such proposal is based on calculation of false positive risk. It is suggested that p values and confidence intervals should continue to be given, but that they should be supplemented by a single additional number that conveys the strength of the evidence better than the p value. This number could be the minimum false positive risk (that calculated on the assumption of a prior probability of 0.5, the largest value that can be assumed in the absence of hard prior data). Alternatively one could specify the prior probability that it would be necessary to believe in order to achieve a false positive risk of, say, 0.05.
doi:10.1080/00031305.2018.1529622 fatcat:ozgib5wcpnd6tpszzd7bntu36y