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Probability: Principles Adopted

Preliminary Analysis

In the world of statistics and probability, the principle of preliminary analysis works in much the same way as it does in the judicial one. Essentially the principle dictates that before any formal investigation can be undertaken, the groundwork must be done to ensure there is sufficient information to do so. This usually involves a critical analysis of the data already available on the topic.

Conservative Statistics

Conservative statistics are statistics that refer to the lowest possible probability of any given phenomenon. Statisticians tend to favor this model to avoid the likelihood of false-positives, or instances in which a negative result would be reported as positive.

Scientific Skepticism

Since its inception as a discipline, science has aimed to verify commonly held beliefs through the use of objective testing or logic. In the process, many of these beliefs – including the belief that the world is flat, and that the sun revolves around the earth – have been debunked. Although scientists don’t claim to have the answers to all of the world’s questions, their goal of testing hypotheses has without question led to a much more complete understanding of the world.

Following this line of reasoning, statisticians adopt the method of scientific skepticism when they are attempting to provide reliable probability for any given phenomenon. Those following this principle uphold an epistemological approach. In other words, they endeavor to approach a problem using strictly empirical evidence, and not claims based on faith or anecdotes. Instead, a scientific skeptic focuses on the claim’s verifiability and falsifiability.

Unlike regular scientists, however, those adopting the scientific skeptic’s approach do not merely attempt to verify or falsify hypotheses posited by colleagues in their field. Rather, they focus on explaining any claims they consider to be implausible, unlikely or simply in disagreement with mainstream science. Instead of rejecting such claims, as many scientists might, they critically examine them.

Contrary to popular belief, scientific skeptics are not cynics, but rather are members of the scientific community who adopt a method – not a position – that attempts to explain the possibility that any given phenomenon might be true.


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