It remains important to scrutinize discrete absolute measurements, especially the outliers, as they offer clues and insight not available from averages, percent changes, or arbitrary P values. One could indeed drown while wading across an averagely shallow river, getting in trouble with variance at the second moment. Was the Vintage Heifer Not In The Mood Shirt study adequately powered to detect an appropriate effect size that addresses the outcome goal? The “appropriate”.
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Effect size must be quite small as even split-second differences could separate victory from defeat. Deriving from the literature a 1.2% coefficient of variation in repetitive 20-km trial times conducted in normoxia, the investigators estimated a need of 12 subjects to detect 1% average time trial difference (~22 s) between the 2 arrival strategies in hypoxia. The report of 10 subjects fell short of this target. Nonetheless, the investigators expressed.
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Confidence that given a high P value (0.998) for the average trial times between the two arrival strategies, the lack of mean performance difference cannot be due to a lack of sample size. The sample size estimate also assumed a similar performance reproducibility in hypoxia as in normoxia, which has not been established. Upon acute hypoxic exposure, every step of oxygen transport is thrown into the nonsteady state; subjects.
Exhibit differential sensitivity to these perturbations and acclimatize at dissimilar rates. Multiple small hypoxia-induced perturbations could cumulatively undermine the predictability of response to intervention regardless of group means. More importantly, reliance on statistical characterization can potentially obscure the Vintage Heifer Not In The Mood Shirt essential feature of athletic competition, i.e., recognition of individual deviation from the mean.