Richard McElreath

Richard McElreath, Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Davis, will deliver a plenary lecture, and will be introduced by Robert Boyd, Professor of Anthropology at Arizona State University. Talk title and abstract below.

The evolution of statistical methods for studying human evolution

Many published research findings are false. Blame for this fact has fallen heavily on statistical practice and malpractice. I review the history of applied statistics, with a focus on the cultural evolution of contemporary (mal)practice in evolutionary biology, anthropology, and psychology. I focus on problems of particular importance for the study of human evolution. I explain the goals and limitations of proposed remedies, with a focus on Bayesian inference and model comparison. Finally, I present a model of how the evidential value of any statistical procedure cannot be understood in isolation, but instead depends upon the population dynamics of a scientific community.