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Durham University

Knowledge for Use (K4U)

K4U Events

Future events

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Workshop: Philosophy of Statistics

30th May 2019, 13:15 to 17:30, Senate Suite, University College


Prof David Hendry (University of Oxford)

Robust Model Selection (joint paper with Jennifer L. Castle, Jurgen A. Doornik)

Complete and correct a priori specifications of models for observational data never exist, so model selection is unavoidable. The target of selection needs to be the process generating the data for the variables under analysis, while retaining the objective of the study, often a theory-based formulation. Successful selection requires robustness against many potential problems jointly, including outliers and shifts; omitted variables; incorrect distributional shape; non-stationarity; mis-specified dynamics; and non-linearity, as well as inappropriate exogeneity assumptions, while seeking parsimonious final representations that retain the relevant information, are well specified, encompass alternative models, and evaluate the validity of the study. Our approach to doing so inevitably leads to more candidate variables than observations, handled by iteratively switching between contracting and expanding multi-path searches, here programmed in Autometrics. We re-analyse the `local instability' in the `robust' method of least median squares shown by Hettmansperger and Sheather (1992) using indicator saturation (IS) to explain their findings, and apply IS to discriminate between measurement errors and outliers, as well as between outliers and large observations arising from non-linear responses (illustrated by artificial data). We also illustrate the approach by empirical models of wage-age relationships for the USA, and inflation for the UK (both tackling outliers and non-linearities that can distort other estimation methods), as well as by impacts of volcanic eruptions on Northern-hemisphere temperature reconstructions (using designed shift functions).

Prof Deborah Mayo (Virginia Tech)

How to 'Keep Calm and Carry On' in Today's 3D* Statistics Wars: 7 Responses for Severe Testers
*Philosophical, Social & Political

Intermingled in today’s statistical controversies are some long-standing, but unresolved, disagreements on the nature and principles of statistical methods and the roles for probability in statistical inference. These have important philosophical dimensions that must be recognized to effectively carry out as well as appraise statistical research in today’s social contexts. To combat the dangers of unthinking, bandwagon effects, practitioners and consumers should be in a position to critically evaluate the ramifications of proposed statistical "reforms," as well as respond to often-rehearsed objections to statistical significance tests. I distill key complex philosophical issues by means of 7 simple responses to key challenges.

Deborah G. Mayo is Professor Emerita in the Department of Philosophy at Virginia Tech and is a visiting professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science, Centre for the Philosophy of Natural and Social Science. She is the author of Error and the Growth of Experimental Knowledge(Chicago, 1996), which won the 1998 Lakatos Prize awarded to the most outstanding contribution to the philosophy of science during the previous six years. She co-edited Error and Inference: Recent Exchanges on Experimental Reasoning, Reliability, and the Objectivity and Rationality of Science (CUP, 2010) with Aris Spanos, and has published widely in the philosophy of science, statistics, and experimental inference. Her most recent book is Statistical Inference as Severe Testing: How to Get Beyond the Statistics Wars (CUP, 2018). She will co-direct (with Aris Spanos) a Summer Seminar on Philosophy of Statistics at Virginia Tech, with 15 participating philosophy and social science faculty and post docs, July 28-August 11, 2019. A link (from my blog) to the entire first chapter (Excursion 1 Tour I ) is here:

Prof Jan Sprenger (University of Turin)

Degree of Corroboration: An Antidote to the Replication Crisis

Shortcomings of prevalent statistical methods---in particular, Null Hypothesis Significance Testing (NHST)---are often cited as causes of the replication crisis in various scientific disciplines. In this paper, I identify how a particular feature of NHST contributes to the replication crisis: the impossibility of quantifying support for the null hypothesis. I argue that also popular alternatives to NHST such as confidence intervals and Bayesian inference do not address the problem in a fully satisfactory way. In this talk, I elaborate on the concept of corroboration of the null hypothesis in order to fill this gap. I explicate degree of corroboration using a parsimonious set of adequacy criteria and I show how corroboration-based hypothesis testing improves statistical inference and mitigates the replication crisis.

All welcome and refreshments provided – please contact the Centre Administrator at to confirm attendance

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Past Events

4 December 2019

Joint Event with Michela Massimi. Collaboration meeting with ERC Consolidator Grant: "Perspectival Realism. Science, knowledge and truth from a human vantage point, Edinburgh, UK

11 October 2019, K4U Values Workshop, Durham, UK

K4U Workshop on 'Values'

10 October 2019, K4U Education Workshop, Durham, UK

'Evidence in Education Practice'

15-16 July 2019, CHESS/K4U/BSPS Conference: Reviving Instrumentalism in Philosophy of Science, Durham, UK

Two day conference entitled 'Reviving Instrumentalism in Philosophy of Science’. Supported by: The Department of Philosophy (Durham University); The British Society for Philosophy of Science (BSPS); The Centre for Humanities Engaging Science and Society (CHESS) and the Knowledge for Use (K4U) project.

14-15 June 2019, Conference in Memory of David Marcus Knight, Durham, UK

CHESS/K4U/SHAC (Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry) Conference

30 May 2019, Philosophy of Statistics Workshop, Durham, UK

CHESS/K4U Workshop: Speakers: Prof David Hendry (University of Oxford); 'Robust Model Selection' (joint paper with Jennifer L. Castle and Jurgen A. Doornik

10 May 2019, Evidence Amalgamation Workshop, University College, Cork, Ireland

UCC/K4U Workshop: 'Evidence Amalgamation'

1 May 2019, Workshop 'Adequacy for Purpose', Durham, UK

CHESS/K4U Workshop: 'Adequacy for Purpose', Speakers: Wendy Parker (Durham), Paul Pearce (Defence Science and Technology Laboratory), Joe Roussos (LSE), Mark von Rosing (Global University Alliance).

21 March 2019, Durham, UK

CHESS/K4U Workshop: 'Science Policy and Political Science', visiting speakers: Prof Sharon Crasnow (Norco College) and Dr Inkeri Koskinen (University of Helsinki).

27-29 November 2018, Università Ca' Foscari, Venice, Italy

K4U Conference: 'Understanding the Underlying Structure'.

20 November 2018, Manchester, UK

K4U Presentation to the 'Working Well Programme', Greater Manchester Health and Employment Board - 'Mental Health in the EU' Case Study

8 November 2018 - Durham, UK

CHESS Seminar Series: 'The analysis of presence and absence, or the reality of absence, in the use of fuzzy sets and Qualitative Comparative Analysis', visiting speaker: Prof. Wendy Olsen, (University of Manchester).

6 November 2018, Durham, UK

K4U Workshop: 'Evidence based case studies', Jeremy Clarke and visiting speaker: Bill Styles.

26 October 2018, LSE, London, UK

K4U Workshop: 'Changing the structures - and changing them well', visiting speaker: Eimir Hurley (Trinity College Dublin).

27 July 2018, Manchester, UK

Mental Health in the EU, Case Study Report presentation to Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA).

27 June 2018, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

K4U Workshop on 'Deliberation', visiting speakers: James Copestake (University of Bath) and Alfred Moore (University of York).

15 May 2018, Institute of Advanced Studies, Durham, UK

CHESS/IAS/K4U Workshop Series: 'Thinking Ecologically about Policy and Structure', Workshop 2: 'Two approached to mapping social structure? (Systems theory; Ecology)', Nancy Cartwright and Hakan Seckinelgin.

15 November 2017, Durham, UK

CHESS/K4U Seminar: 'Self-Interest, Design and Policy-Making', visiting speaker: Fernando Morrett (London School of Economics).

31 October 2017, Institute of Advanced Studies, Durham, UK

CHESS/IAS/K4U Workshop Series: 'Thinking Ecologically about Policy and Structure', Workshop 1: 'Learning how to affect change in stable structures', Nancy Cartwright and Hakan Seckinelgin.

30 October 2017, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College, London, UK

Mental Health and Justice Seminar, 'Objectivity and Evidence', Nancy Cartwright, Jeremy Clarke and Andrew Fletcher.

15 June 2017, LSE, London, UK

K4U Workshop: 'Social Sciences & Randomised Controlled Trials', organiser: Hakan Seckinelgin, visiting speaker: Dr. Tamara Giles-Vernick (Pasteur Institute, Paris)

14 June 2017, LSE, London, UK

K4U Full team meeting.

22 May 2017, London, UK

Improving Child Safety Book Release, organised by Prof. Eileen Munro.

10 May 2017, Durham, UK

Improving Child Safety Book Release, organised by Prof. Nancy Cartwright.

8 May 2017, LSE, London, UK

K4U Workshop: 'Judgement and Deliberation', organised by Dr. Katherine Furman, visiting speakers: Christian List (LSE); Anouk Rigterink (Oxford); Tony Holland (Cambridge); Elizabeth Fistein (Cambridge); Wayne Martin (University of Essex).

17 March 2017, LSE, London, UK

K4U Seminar: 'Single Case Reseach Design in Pschotherapy', organised by Jeremy Clarke and Katherine Furman, visiting speaker: Bruce Wampold (University of Wisconsin).

8 March 2017, Durham, UK

K4U Interdisciplinarity Workshop: 'Bringing the Disciplines Together at the Point of Action', organised by Julian Reiss, visiting speaker: Prof. Michael O'Rourke (Michigan State University).

7 March 2017, Durham, UK

Meeting with Lloyds TSB Foundation Scotland, 'Everyone Has a Story', organised by Prof. Linda McKie.

25-26 October 2016, Durham, UK

K4U Project Annual Conference -- meeting of full team.

3 June 2016, Durham, UK

K4U Workshop Series: 'Talking Therapies', Workshop 2: 'What should an evidence-based pathway for improving work and wellbeing look like to the people who are on it?', organised by Jeremy Clarke, visiting speaker: Prof. Robert Elliott (University of Strathclyde)

26 May 2016, Durham, UK

K4U Workshop, 'Context Matters: Understanding How the System Works', organised by Nancy Cartwright, visiting speaker: Prof. Sandra Mitchell (University of Pittsburgh).

12 May 2016, Durham, UK

CHESS/K4U Seminar: 'Will the Chilcot report tell the full stort about the British military intervention in Iraq?', visiting speaker: Marie-Hélène Labbé (International Institute for Strategic Studies).

11 May 2016, Durham, UK

CHESS/K4U Workshop: 'Utilitarianism and Medicine: Past and Present Perspective', visiting speaker: Cathy Gere (University of California, San Diego).

10 May 2016, Institute of Advanced Studies, Durham, UK

CHESS/IAS/K4U Workshop Series (IAS Theme 2015/16: Evidence): 'Evidence Synthesis by Building a Case', Workshop 3: 'What will work in my school? What does evidence say?'

3 May 2016, Institute of Advanced Studies, Durham, UK

CHESS/IAS/K4U Workshop Series (IAS Theme 2015/16: Evidence): 'Evidence Synthesis by Building a Case', Workshop 2: 'Amalgamation and the Principle of Total Evidence'

27 April 2016, Durham, UK

K4U Workshop Series: 'Talking Therapies', Workshop 1: 'What evidence works best for which NICE therapy?', organised by Jeremy Clarke, visiting speaker: Prof. Robert Elliott (University of Strathclyde)

16 February 2016, LSE, London, UK

K4U Full team meeting.

10 December 2015, London, UK

K4U Full team meeting.

10 November 2015, Institute of Advanced Studies, Durham, UK

CHESS/IAS/K4U Workshop Series (IAS Theme 2015/16: Evidence): 'Evidence Synthesis by Building a Case', Workshop 1: 'Evidence Amalgamation: Weighing the Evidence v Building a Case'