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Significance Tests / Hypothesis Testing
Bayesian hypothesis testing helps to answer the question: Can the results from a test or survey be repeated?
Why do we care if a test can be repeated? Let’s say twenty people in the same village came down with leukemia. A group of researchers find that cellphone towers are to blame. However, a second study found that cellphone towers had nothing to do with the cancer cluster in the village. In fact, they found that the cancers were completely random. If that sounds impossible, it actually can happen! Clusters of cancer can happen . There could be many reasons why the first study was faulty. One of the main reasons could be that they just didn’t take into account that sometimes things happen randomly and we just don’t know why.
One of the main goals of statistical hypothesis testing is to estimate the P value, which is the probability of obtaining the observed results, or something more extreme, if the null hypothesis were true. If the observed results are unlikely under the null hypothesis, your reject the null hypothesis. Alternatives to this "frequentist" approach to statistics include Bayesian statistics and estimation of effect sizes and confidence intervals.
Test the appropriate hypothesis at the 5% level.
The primary goal of a statistical test is to determine whether an observed data set is so different from what you would expect under the null hypothesis that you should reject the null hypothesis. For example, let's say you are studying sex determination in chickens. For breeds of chickens that are bred to lay lots of eggs, female chicks are more valuable than male chicks, so if you could figure out a way to manipulate the sex ratio, you could make a lot of chicken farmers very happy. You've fed chocolate to a bunch of female chickens (in birds, unlike mammals, the female parent determines the sex of the offspring), and you get 25 female chicks and 23 male chicks. Anyone would look at those numbers and see that they could easily result from chance; there would be no reason to reject the null hypothesis of a 1:1 ratio of females to males. If you got 47 females and 1 male, most people would look at those numbers and see that they would be extremely unlikely to happen due to luck, if the null hypothesis were true; you would reject the null hypothesis and conclude that chocolate really changed the sex ratio. However, what if you had 31 females and 17 males? That's definitely more females than males, but is it really so unlikely to occur due to chance that you can reject the null hypothesis? To answer that, you need more than common sense, you need to calculate the probability of getting a deviation that large due to chance.
After you do a statistical test, you are either going to reject or accept the null hypothesis. Rejecting the null hypothesis means that you conclude that the null hypothesis is not true; in our chicken sex example, you would conclude that the true proportion of male chicks, if you gave chocolate to an infinite number of chicken mothers, would be less than 50%.
Test at ALPHA=.05 the hypothesis that the true weight is 140 lb.
Another way your data can fool you is when you don't reject the null hypothesis, even though it's not true. If the true proportion of female chicks is 51%, the null hypothesis of a 50% proportion is not true, but you're unlikely to get a significant difference from the null hypothesis unless you have a huge sample size. Failing to reject the null hypothesis, even though it's not true, is a "false negative" or "Type II error." This is why we never say that our data shows the null hypothesis to be true; all we can say is that we haven't rejected the null hypothesis.
Does a probability of 0.030 mean that you should reject the null hypothesis, and conclude that chocolate really caused a change in the sex ratio? The convention in most biological research is to use a significance level of 0.05. This means that if the P value is less than 0.05, you reject the null hypothesis; if P is greater than or equal to 0.05, you don't reject the null hypothesis. There is nothing mathematically magic about 0.05, it was chosen rather arbitrarily during the early days of statistics; people could have agreed upon 0.04, or 0.025, or 0.071 as the conventional significance level.
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What is the Significance of null hypothesis?  iSixSigma
The significance level (also known as the "critical value" or "alpha") you should use depends on the costs of different kinds of errors. With a significance level of 0.05, you have a 5% chance of rejecting the null hypothesis, even if it is true. If you try 100 different treatments on your chickens, and none of them really change the sex ratio, 5% of your experiments will give you data that are significantly different from a 1:1 sex ratio, just by chance. In other words, 5% of your experiments will give you a false positive. If you use a higher significance level than the conventional 0.05, such as 0.10, you will increase your chance of a false positive to 0.10 (therefore increasing your chance of an embarrassingly wrong conclusion), but you will also decrease your chance of a false negative (increasing your chance of detecting a subtle effect). If you use a lower significance level than the conventional 0.05, such as 0.01, you decrease your chance of an embarrassing false positive, but you also make it less likely that you'll detect a real deviation from the null hypothesis if there is one.
Understanding Hypothesis Tests: Significance Levels …
The probability that was calculated above, 0.030, is the probability of getting 17 or fewer males out of 48. It would be significant, using the conventional PP=0.03 value found by adding the probabilities of getting 17 or fewer males. This is called a onetailed probability, because you are adding the probabilities in only one tail of the distribution shown in the figure. However, if your null hypothesis is "The proportion of males is 0.5", then your alternative hypothesis is "The proportion of males is different from 0.5." In that case, you should add the probability of getting 17 or fewer females to the probability of getting 17 or fewer males. This is called a twotailed probability. If you do that with the chicken result, you get P=0.06, which is not quite significant.
Understanding Hypothesis Tests ..
You should decide whether to use the onetailed or twotailed probability before you collect your data, of course. A onetailed probability is more powerful, in the sense of having a lower chance of false negatives, but you should only use a onetailed probability if you really, truly have a firm prediction about which direction of deviation you would consider interesting. In the chicken example, you might be tempted to use a onetailed probability, because you're only looking for treatments that decrease the proportion of worthless male chickens. But if you accidentally found a treatment that produced 87% male chickens, would you really publish the result as "The treatment did not cause a significant decrease in the proportion of male chickens"? I hope not. You'd realize that this unexpected result, even though it wasn't what you and your farmer friends wanted, would be very interesting to other people; by leading to discoveries about the fundamental biology of sexdetermination in chickens, in might even help you produce more female chickens someday. Any time a deviation in either direction would be interesting, you should use the twotailed probability. In addition, people are skeptical of onetailed probabilities, especially if a onetailed probability is significant and a twotailed probability would not be significant (as in our chocolateeating chicken example). Unless you provide a very convincing explanation, people may think you decided to use the onetailed probability after you saw that the twotailed probability wasn't quite significant, which would be cheating. It may be easier to always use twotailed probabilities. For this handbook, I will always use twotailed probabilities, unless I make it very clear that only one direction of deviation from the null hypothesis would be interesting.
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