Thursday, May 13, 2010

Gordon Lish in the House of Bayes

Andrew Gelman gives a statistician's take on the Lish method:

In any case, in the grand tradition of reviewing the review, I have some thoughts inspired by DeWitt, who quotes from this interview:

LRS: I was studying writing at college and then this professor showed up, a disciple of Gordon Lish, and we operated according to the Lish method. You start reading your work and then as soon as you hit a false note she made you stop.

Lipsyte: Yeah, Lish would say, "That's bullshit!"

If they did this for statistics articles, I think they'd rarely get past the abstract, most of the time. The methods are so poorly motivated. You're doing a so-called "exact test" because . . . why? And that "uniformly most powerful test" is a good idea because . . . why again? Because "power" is good? And that "Bayes factor"? Etc.

The rest here.

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