Higgs Discovery and the Look Elsewhere Effect

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Dawid, Richard
preprint description
The discovery of the Higgs particle required a signal of five sigma significance. The rigid application of that condition is a convention that disregards more specific aspects of the given experiment. In particular, it does not account for the characteristics of the look elsewhere effect in the individual experimental context. The paper relates this aspect of data analysis to the question as to what extent theoretical reasoning should be admitted to play a role in the assessment of the significance of empirical data.