Why psychologists must change the way they analyze their data: The case of psi: Comment on Bem (2011).
Wagenmakers, Eric–Jan; Wetzels, Ruud; Borsboom, Denny; van der Maas, Han L. J.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 100(3), Mar 2011, 426-432.
Does psi exist? D. J. Bem (2011) conducted 9 studies with over 1,000 participants in an attempt to demonstrate that future events retroactively affect people's responses. Here we discuss several limitations of Bem's experiments on psi; in particular, we show that the data analysis was partly exploratory and that one-sided p values may overstate the statistical evidence against the null hypothesis. We reanalyze Bem's data with a default Bayesian t test and show that the evidence for psi is weak to nonexistent. We argue that in order to convince a skeptical audience of a controversial claim, one needs to conduct strictly confirmatory studies and analyze the results with statistical tests that are conservative rather than liberal. We conclude that Bem's p values do not indicate evidence in favor of precognition; instead, they indicate that experimental psychologists need to change the way they conduct their experiments and analyze their data. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)