Steve Ziliak at Guinness brewery
Roosevelt University Economics Professor Stephen Ziliak
"“This is an article about making choices for brewing beer. It’s easy to teach, it engages young people, and yet it’s a bombshell that goes deeply into testing methods that fly in the face of statistical significance testing.” Justin Shea Roosevelt Alumnus & Visiting Assistant Professor of Finance who assigns the article in his Heller College finance class

An article by a Roosevelt University professor that delves into the science that made Guinness beer successful has been rated by U.S. economists as a favorite for teaching research strategies to college students.

Recommended for the “Econometrics” classroom in a survey by the American Economic Association (AEA), Economics Professor Stephen T. Ziliak’s “Retrospective: Guinnessometrics: The Economic Foundation of “Student’s” t” focuses on the work of late Guinness brewer William S. Gosset, who is better known in literature by his pen name, “Student,” as in “Student”’s test of statistical significance.

You can listen to an NPR interview with Ziliak about Guinessometrics.

Responsible for creating statistical methods that raise quality, lower costs, and could help to transform the Guinness brewery into a global giant, Gosset used small batch testing of beer and its ingredients to achieve best outcomes.

“The more I looked into the Guinness archives, the more I realized Gosset’s approach to testing was the right one,” said Ziliak, long a leading voice against too many researchers use of large-scale randomized experiments and statistically significant test results to arrive at outcomes.

“Gosset’s testing method is something that has worked for Guinness for more than 100 years, and yet we don’t use it or teach it,” added Ziliak, whose article, published by the Journal of Economic Perspectives, presents Gosset’s approach to testing as practical, precise, and entrepreneurial.

Among approximately 35 articles recommended since 2000 for the college classroom by the AEA, the piece first published by Ziliak in 2008 today is making its way into a variety of college classrooms where research methods are taught.  You can view AEA's list of recommended articles at: https://www.aeaweb.org/journals/jep/classroom/econometrics 

For instance, It is assigned reading for Roosevelt students taking Research Methods in Finance taught by Roosevelt alumnus Justin Shea, a visiting assistant professor of finance in Roosevelt’s Heller College of Business and a 2014 graduate of the University’s Master’s in Economics program.

“This is an article about making choices for brewing beer,” said Shea. “It’s easy to teach, it engages young people, and yet it’s a bombshell that goes deeply into testing methods that fly in the face of statistical significance testing.”

The recognized article also is part of an undergraduate class in Recent Economic Thought at Colorado State University.

“Students pick this article apart. They cannot believe that an alternative testing method like Gosset’s has gone on unnoticed for so long.  It’s really about the importance of experimentation in finding best solutions to economic problems,” added Roosevelt alumnus Edward Teather-Posadas, a 2013 graduate of Roosevelt’s Master’s in Economics program and a PhD candidate and instructor in economics and interdisciplinary liberal arts at Colorado State.

“Gosset was a great experimentalist. He took a lot more into account than relying on statistical significance test results for answers,” added Ziliak. “To be recognized by my peers for bringing this work to light is both an honor and a sign that the tide may finally be turning against complete randomization and reliance on statistical significance testing.”

To learn more about the recommended article and its author, tune in to National Public Radio’s Sept. 12, 2019 podcast, “So What is Guinnessometrics? Stats and Stories Episode 11” at https://www.npr.org/podcasts/530134710/stats-stories

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