Where are the keys to my F-16?

The average psychologist’s statistical toolkit is expanding. Multilevel (mixed effects) models are now routinely used where 10 years ago repeated measures ANOVA prevailed. Bayesian statistics are coming. Isn’t this fantastic?

Well, yes and no. Here is a quote about the use of multilevel models by psycholinguists:

At a recent workshop on mixed-effects models, a prominent psycholinguist memorably quipped that encouraging psycholinguists to use linear mixed-effects models was like giving shotguns to toddlers. Might the field be better off without complicated mixed-effects modeling, and the potential for misuse it brings?

And here is a quote about the increasing use of Bayesian statistics:

As Brad Efron wrote in 1986, Bayesian theory requires a great deal of thought about the given situation to apply sensibly, and recommending that scientists use Bayes’ theorem is like giving the neighborhood kids the key to your F-16.

Where are all these F-16s piloted by shotgun-wielding toddlers?

Matti Vuorre
Postdoctoral Research Scientist