Professor Simon asks:

"You might wonder though if the wiggle room provided by the subjective nature of the list of appellations is enough to explain the striking results of WRR"

Professor McKay asks:

"Was there enough freedom available in the conduct of the experiment that a small significance level could have been obtained merely by exploiting it?"

Professor McKay then goes on to show that by making many dozens of changes in the list of appellations while peeking at the results in his back room, he can make a public experiment that has a small p-value in a Hebrew translation of War and Peace. He does exactly what he thinks Witztum, Rips, and Rosenberg did.

The import is that it is possible to cheat. But just because it is possible to cheat does not mean the Witztum, Rips, and Rosenberg did in fact cheat. One could logically come to that conclusion only with some additional assumptions having to do with one's belief system. And such belief system assumptions are not appropriate to employ in a study which in some sense impinges on the belief system itself. The only reasonable way to proceed is to keep an open mind and suspend any interfering belief system assumptions.

In the end the truth will come out. For there will be additional studies whose methodology of data gathering will be more demonstrably a priori.

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Last modified Wed, Jan-21-2009, 07:25 MST