Friday, December 11, 2009

Statistics in linguistics

People in linguistics tend to treat statistical theory as something that can be outsourced--we don't really need to know anything about the details, we just need to know which button to click.

People easily outsource statistical knowledge in an empirical paper, but the same people would be appalled if they hired an assistant to work out the technical details of syntactic theory for a syntax paper.

The statistics *is* the science, it's not some extra appendage that can be outsourced.


Andy said...

Whatever you say something *is*, it is not :-) (said somebody famous).

But yes, you can't fit a statistical model unless you know about the substantive theory. And you can't design an experiment unless you know about stats.

It's exceedingly annoying to be asked a "quick 10 minute question" about stats as if the stats can just be bolted on as an afterthought.

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