Our Days Are Numbered: Stats Errors

Our Days Are Numbered is a (new) regular feature with posts about mathematics related topics. Why? Because our students, in general, struggle with math, and if we all know more, perhaps they will learn more.

I’ve been waiting awhile for the paperback of Charles Wheelan’s Naked Statistics. It looked like a great primer on the subject, but it kills me to buy hardcovers and (unfortunately) due to the rise in ebooks, it seems to be taking longer and longer for books to get published in paperback. Anyway, I’m off topic, already.

This adaptation from his book focuses on five ways to make mistakes (intentional or not) using statistics, and gives a nice primer for some related inductive reasoning errors related to causation, but all presented in snappy, easy to read prose with great examples. If you’ve never taken Statistics (or it’s been a long time), you might find it helpful.

5 thoughts on “Our Days Are Numbered: Stats Errors

    • I was about to say, “Math-holes!” and do a lot of grumbling about how geometry isn’t math either and blah blah blah when I noticed that it appears to be a fancy-pants stats person saying those things (and in the hopes of not having to compete with math folks for grant money, if I read it right).

      And so I wave a hand dismissively and scoff at the notion, hiding behind the technicality that Stats is a math class at Harold Washington, anyway, and felt the cool breeze of rigteousness calm my heated mind and while nodding and smiling at your assessment of the mathiness and sexiness of the new feature. ‘Tis enough for now.

      • Yeah. I realized after the fact that it was the stats folks who were quibbling. In defense of stats, if we call stats a non-math course, the same could be said about a lot of applied mathematics disciplines. I’d consider stats a discipline within mathematics as a whole just as Algebra, Analysis, Topology, Logic, etc. are. Each draws on one another. For instance, I was really surprised while taking a stat course in grad. school how complicated the proofs were for some of the commonly used techniques and distributions within stats. There was a ton of “pure” math fueling the statistics being used. Math always gets me talking. I’m sure the same is true for most other living, breathing humans.

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