Why don’t we use significant digits?

Any idea why we don’t use significant digits in statistics? Something along the line of we are using estimates so rules about precision don’t apply 😉 ?

Answer

Significant digits are used in some fields (I learned about them in Chemistry) to indicate the degree of meaningful precision that exists in a number. This is an important topic in statistics as well, so in fact we report this constantly–we just report it in a different form. Specifically, we report confidence intervals, which indicate the level of precision of an estimate (such as a mean).

Once you’ve listed the 95% CI for an estimate, such as $(-0.12, 1.12)$, you can list as many digits for your mean as you might like, such as $0.50129519823975923$, and there is no problem. In fact, the statistician Andrew Gelman has recommended that you list at least four (2009, p. 4).

Attribution
Source : Link , Question Author : timothy.s.lau , Answer Author : gung – Reinstate Monica

Leave a Comment