Ep. 57 Neither Fisher nor Bayes: The Limits of Statistical Inference

Michael Acree, PhD

How do we know that a treatment works or not?  Billions of healthcare dollars are at stake in the answer to that question.  For decades, that answer has largely hinged on theories from a field of human inquiry that combines the precision of mathematics with the accuracy of astrology.  We are talking of course, about statistics and statistical inference.

To help us understand better this mystical science, we have as our guest Dr. Michael Acree who has spent his entire career working for the University of California San Francisco as a data scientist and a teacher of statistical science, helping countless researchers make sense of the data they had obtained.  Michael is now retired and is completing a book on the history and philosophy of statistical inference.  He joins us to tell us the whole truth about what is sometimes referred to as the science of mendacity!


Michael Acree, PhD.


Michel Accad. Statistics and the Rise of Medical Fortunetellers (open access editorial, Texas Heart Institute Journal, 2009)

Anish Koka. Statistical certainty: Less is more

Stephen Ziliak and Deirdre McCloseky. “The Cult of Statistical Significance.” (2009 , JSM)


Ep. 48 Many Statisticians, Many Answers: The Methodological Factor in the Replication Crisis


Watch the episode on our YouTube channel


  1. Dan Monroe on 02/06/2019 at 3:44 PM

    The work of Ziliak and McCloskey on the insignificance of tests for significance seems significant to this podcast. One thinks of the young Rothbard renouncing statistics after concluding that the normal curve was after all a false idol.
    Thanks for your many interesting and thought-provoking podcasts.
    Dan Monroe
    Triangle Lake Charter School
    Blachly, Oregon

    • Michel Accad on 02/06/2019 at 6:28 PM

      Thank you! I’ll link the McCloskey-Ziliak paper to the show notes and will encourage readers to look up Murray Rothbard…

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