# rejecting the null hypothesis when the alternative is true.

How do we determine whether to reject the null hypothesis? It depends on the level of significance α, which is the probability of the Type I error.

## not rejecting the null hypothesis when the alternative is true.

### The failure to reject does not imply the null hypothesis is true.

Does a probability of 0.030 mean that you should reject the null hypothesis, and conclude that chocolate really caused a change in the sex ratio? The convention in most biological research is to use a significance level of 0.05. This means that if the *P* value is less than 0.05, you reject the null hypothesis; if *P* is greater than or equal to 0.05, you don't reject the null hypothesis. There is nothing mathematically magic about 0.05, it was chosen rather arbitrarily during the early days of statistics; people could have agreed upon 0.04, or 0.025, or 0.071 as the conventional significance level.

### error (rejecting a null hypothesis when it is in fact true)

Another way your data can fool you is when you don't reject the null hypothesis, even though it's not true. If the true proportion of female chicks is 51%, the null hypothesis of a 50% proportion is not true, but you're unlikely to get a significant difference from the null hypothesis unless you have a huge sample size. Failing to reject the null hypothesis, even though it's not true, is a "false negative" or "Type II error." This is why we never say that our data shows the null hypothesis to be true; all we can say is that we haven't rejected the null hypothesis.