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      Beyond subjective and objective in statistics

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          Abstract

          We argue that the words "objectivity" and "subjectivity" in statistics discourse are used in a mostly unhelpful way, and we propose to replace each of them with broader collections of attributes, with objectivity replaced by transparency, consensus, impartiality, and correspondence to observable reality, and subjectivity replaced by awareness of multiple perspectives and context dependence. The advantage of these reformulations is that the replacement terms do not oppose each other. Instead of debating over whether a given statistical method is subjective or objective (or normatively debating the relative merits of subjectivity and objectivity in statistical practice), we can recognize desirable attributes such as transparency and acknowledgment of multiple perspectives as complementary goals. We demonstrate the implications of our proposal with recent applied examples from pharmacology, election polling, and socioeconomic stratification.

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          Journal
          21 August 2015
          Article
          1508.05453

          http://arxiv.org/licenses/nonexclusive-distrib/1.0/

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          35 pages
          stat.OT stat.AP

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