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The Null Hypothesis: More than Zero

5-Prime | The Null Hypothesis: More than Zero What? Perhaps primary among the challenges and conditions that face life scientists is the infinite variability between individuals. An important tool for measuring those disparities is the Null Hypothesis Significance Test (NHST). It begins by proposing no difference between samples or populations being tested. Of course, "no difference" is an exact point among infinite alternatives, the probability of which is virtually zero. That's why resea

Steve Bunk

5-Prime | The Null Hypothesis: More than Zero


What? Perhaps primary among the challenges and conditions that face life scientists is the infinite variability between individuals. An important tool for measuring those disparities is the Null Hypothesis Significance Test (NHST). It begins by proposing no difference between samples or populations being tested. Of course, "no difference" is an exact point among infinite alternatives, the probability of which is virtually zero. That's why researchers must decide when random variability is not the only reason for dissimilarities in samples. Usually, a 5% limit is set, meaning that 95% of samples taken at random from each group should fall within a range acceptable to the null hypothesis.

Why? The NHST's reason for being is that it replaces anecdotal evidence and intuition with standardized logic that, while not flawless, should be more reliable than a hunch. It could be called a best guess, in...

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