This has been on my mind for a while.
I think the observation is best summed up as:
If somebody asks if something is statistically significant, they probably don’t know what it means.
I don’t mean to offend anyone, and I can think of plenty of counter examples*, but this is borne out of long observation of conversations among both scientists and non-scientists. Statistically significant is sometimes used as a proxy for true, and is sometimes muddled with significant or meaningful or large. In climate, it also gets confused with caused by human activity.
Even those that have done lots of statistics can forget that it only tells how likely you are to see something, given something you think probably isn’t true.
It’s one of those horrible, slippery concepts that won’t stay in the brain for any length of time, so you** have to go over it again, and then again, every time to make sure that yes, that’s what it really means, and yes, that’s how it fits in with your problem.
No wonder people don’t know what it means.
*This is just a personal observation, but there is data out there. I’m sure people will provide counter examples in the comments.
** And by you, I really mean I.