Tony Hak 1950-2018: Champion of Better Methods, Better Statistics

It was a shock to receive the very sad news that Tony Hak died last week, unexpectedly. Too young! And only 3 years into an active retirement.

Tony was an Emeritus Associate Professor, having retired in 2015 from the Department of Technology and Operations Management of RSM, the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, The Netherlands.

Tony was indefatigable in teaching and advocating better research practices and, in particular, use of statistical methods not based on NHST and p values. He had worked in a number of different disciplines during his career, and maintained a great breadth of interest–just about all disciplines need to lift their statistical game. Tony recognised many of the issues that led to Open Science well before that term became established.

I’ll mention just two of his recent pieces of work:

Meta-Essentials
This is an Excel-based set of tools for meta-analysis that was developed with two of Tony’s graduate students. It goes well beyond ESCI intro meta-analysis. It is a free download from here. We recommend it in Chapter 9 of ITNS; it’s well worth checking out.

ICOTS9, 2014
ICOTS9 was the 9th International Conference on Teaching Statistics, held in Flagstaff, Arizona. Tony’s provocative paper was titled AFTER STATISTICS REFORM: SHOULD WE STILL TEACH SIGNIFICANCE TESTING? Download it here.

Tony argued that we should seriously consider no longer teaching NHST. His paper caused quite a stir at ICOTS, and, of course, few agreed to go as far as he was advocating. But he made some strong arguments for his position. His paper is very much worth reading–a real thought-provoker.

Australia in 2012, Netherlands in 2013
Tony visited my research group at La Trobe in 2012–we had excellent discussions. Then in 2013 he was a generous academic host to me at RSM for a couple of weeks. I had a wonderful time, giving talks and/or workshops in Groningen, Utrecht, Amsterdam and, especially, Rotterdam. I met and had lively discussions with many of the Netherlands-based folks who are still leaders in Open Science and statistical debates.

One day Tony and I were chatting in his office when a delivery arrived–a stack of heavy cartons. Tony happily explained that the boxes contained my first book, UTNS–sufficient copies for Tony’s incoming methods class. Enough to warm the heart of any author!

Tony was a fine man, wonderful with students, and energetic, persistent, and innovative in pursuit of his academic goals–which were shrewdly chosen to improve how research can be done.

Geoff

TONY HAK 1950 – 2018

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