1. The Basics

  1. Gerald van Belle

Published Online: 26 SEP 2008

DOI: 10.1002/9780470377963.ch1

Statistical Rules of Thumb, Second Edition

Statistical Rules of Thumb, Second Edition

How to Cite

van Belle, G. (2008) The Basics, in Statistical Rules of Thumb, Second Edition, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ, USA. doi: 10.1002/9780470377963.ch1

Author Information

  1. University of Washington, Department of Biostatistics and Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, Seattle, WA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2008
  2. Published Print: 18 AUG 2008

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470144480

Online ISBN: 9780470377963



  • statistical model;
  • p-values;
  • vulnerability;
  • variability;
  • observation


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Four Basic Questions

  • Observation is Selection

  • Replicate to Characterize Variability

  • Variability Occurs at Multiple Levels

  • Invalid Selection is the Primary Threat to Valid Inference

  • There is Variation in Strength of Inference

  • Distinguish Between Randomized and Observational Studies

  • Beware of Linear Models

  • Keep Models as Simple as Possible, but not More Simple

  • Understand Omnibus Quantities

  • Do not Multiply Probabilities More than Necessary

  • Use Two-Sided p-Values

  • Use p-Values to Determine Sample Size, Confidence Intervals to Report Results

  • Use at Least Twelve Observations in Constructing a Confidence Interval

  • Estimate ± Two Standard Errors is Remarkably Robust

  • Know the Unit of the Variable

  • Be Flexible About Scale of Measurement Determining Analysis

  • Be Eclectic and Ecumenical in Inference