Differences in Alpha Level as It Related to Hard and Soft Sciences

Decisions about alpha level may be different, especially as it relates from hard sciences to social sciences. For example, a medical trial for cancer treatments conducts their statistical tests at an alpha of 0.01% or 0.0001 – meaning that for every 1 out of 10,000 patients, there may be issues, sickness or even death.  

Here are some other situations that have a probability of failure. At what ”failure level”, meaning alpha would you be satisfied safety-wise or performance-wise. (This would be the percent that failed the testing)

1. Breaking system on the car you want to buy

2. The likelihood of driver injury if this car were T-boned at 15 mph on the driver’s side

3. A new math program for your children

4. EPA’s regulation on bacteria in a water supply

5. EPA’s regulation on methane emissions from oil/gas wells-serious greenhouse gas (limits just rolled back significantly)

6. Gas station storage tanks leakage (into soil and groundwater) probability

7. Cancer cases from benzene in refinery treated wastewater discharges to a stream (EPA regs just rolled back)

8. Stock price going up in a stock you are considering purchasing

9. Brother-in-law’s wanting a loan and saying ti will be paid back in a month

10. Vitamin’s claim of increased health (define health any way you like)

Add any other issues you want a specific probability for. Any you can find in the literature that have a probability?

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