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Michael Gracie

Reproducibility is Rigor, not Popular

rig·or
noun
the quality of being extremely thorough, exhaustive, or accurate.
“his analysis is lacking in rigor”

As Professor Jeff Leek of Johns Hopkins University points out

Both the scientific community and the popular press are freaking out about reproducibility right now. I think they have good reason to, because even the US Congress is now investigating the transparency of science. It has been driven by the very public reproducibility disasters in genomics and economics.

What is reproducibility? In the simplest sense, it is the inherent “ability” of any information created via data analysis to stand up to scrutiny. Not just perusal, cursory acknowledgment, wink and nod, but a detailed re-analysis, preferably in precisely the same manner that the original information was derived.

Incredulity should be a prized hereditary trait. Workers in the information age should be proud to have the fruits of their labor found bulletproof. And yet too many times it’s heard …

“The numbers are in my briefcase.”

“We’ve got a plan for all this.”

“The science is settled.”

Much more rarely is there any substance behind the claim.

A sad state, motive being garnering popularity, accumulating attention. A supposed currency, concocted from thin air, dumbed down to the least common denominator; the antithesis of rigor. Because it’s easy, and that’s what sells advertising.

MG signing off (thinking the definition of easy should be “relatively worthless”)

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