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We Need Both Exploratory and Confirmatory

John W. Tukey
The American Statistician
Vol. 34, No. 1 (Feb., 1980), pp. 23-25
DOI: 10.2307/2682991
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2682991
Page Count: 3
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We Need Both Exploratory and Confirmatory
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Abstract

We often forget how science and engineering function. Ideas come from previous exploration more often than from lightning strokes. Important questions can demand the most careful planning for confirmatory analysis. Broad general inquiries are also important. Finding the question is often more important than finding the answer. Exploratory data analysis is an attitude, a flexibility, and a reliance on display, NOT a bundle of techniques, and should be so taught. Confirmatory data analysis, by contrast, is easier to teach and easier to computerize. We need to teach both; to think about science and engineering more broadly; to be prepared to randomize and avoid multiplicity.

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