Statistical Thinking

This blog is devoted to statistical thinking and its impact on science and everyday life. Emphasis is given to maximizing the use of information, avoiding statistical pitfalls, describing problems caused by the frequentist approach to statistical inference, describing advantages of Bayesian and likelihood methods, and discussing intended and unintended differences between statistics and data science. I’ll also cover regression modeling strategies, clinical trials, drug evaluation, medical diagnosis, and decision making.

Recent Posts

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This article elaborates on Frank Harrell’s post providing guidance in choosing between machine learning and statistical modeling for a prediction project.


This article provides general guidance to help researchers choose between machine learning and statistical modeling for a prediction project.


This article discusses issues related to alpha spending, effect sizes used in power calculations, multiple endpoints in RCTs, and endpoint labeling. Changes in endpoint priority is addressed. Included in the the discussion is how Bayesian probabilities more naturally allow one to answer multiple questions without all-too-arbitrary designations of endpoints as “primary” and “secondary”. And we should not quit trying to learn.


What are the major elements of learning from data that should inform the research process? How can we prevent having false confidence from statistical analysis? Does a Bayesian approach result in more honest answers to research questions? Is learning inherently subjective anyway, so we need to stop criticizing Bayesians’ subjectivity? How important and possible is pre-specification? When should replication be required? These and other questions are discussed.


Deep learning and other forms of machine learning are getting a lot of press in medicine. The reality doesn’t match the hype, and interpretable statistical models still have a lot to offer.




Recent & Upcoming Talks

Regression Modeling Strategies
Jul 29, 2018 8:30 AM
Regression Modeling Strategies
May 14, 2018 9:00 AM


FDA Office of Biostatistics

Enhancing capabilities of CDER and its Office of Biostatistics in Bayesian clinical trial design and analysis


I teach the BIOS7330 Regression Modeling Strategies course in the Biostatistics Graduate Program at Vanderbilt University in the spring semester. The course web page is here. I teach a 4-day version of this course each May at Vanderbilt. Registration information for the short course may be found here.