The Problem of New Evidence: P-Hacking and Pre-Analysis Plans

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Zoe Hitzig
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1589-2318
Jacob Stegenga
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7016-3708

Abstract

We provide a novel articulation of the epistemic peril of p-hacking using three resources from philosophy: predictivism, Bayesian confirmation theory, and model selection theory. We defend a nuanced position on p-hacking: p-hacking is sometimes, but not always, epistemically pernicious. Our argument requires a novel understanding of Bayesianism, since a standard criticism of Bayesian confirmation theory is that it cannot represent the influence of biased methods. We then turn to pre-analysis plans, a methodological device used to mitigate p-hacking. Some say that pre-analysis plans are epistemically meritorious while others deny this, and in practice pre-analysis plans are often violated. We resolve this debate with a modest defence of pre-analysis plans. Further, we argue that pre-analysis plans can be epistemically relevant even if the plan is not strictly followed—and suggest that allowing for flexible pre-analysis plans may be the best available policy option.

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How to Cite
Hitzig, Zoe, and Jacob Stegenga. 2020. “The Problem of New Evidence: P-Hacking and Pre-Analysis Plans”. Diametros 17 (66), 10-33. https://doi.org/10.33392/diam.1587.
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