Why Do People Have A Love Hate Relationship with Statistics?

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So what is Statistics all about?

It is a mathematical analysis which utilizes quantified models, representations and synopses for some experimental data or real-life matters. In other words, it deals with the interpretation of data. It uses data collection methods, organization, analysis, interpretation and presentation of data.

Statistics as a subject is offered in high school, college, university and various other professional programs.  It is an integral part of mathematics, business management and other physical and social sciences. Some of the main topics covered in the subject statistics are:

  • Biostatistics
  • Data Mining
  • Regression Analysis
  • Linear Models
  • Probability
  • Survey Sampling

There are various courses in Statistics. Let us see, what all is there on offer.

Descriptive Statistics – This is one of the courses, offered at a basic level. Those who are moving into a research project do study descriptive statistics.

Applied Statistics – This is another field of statistics, which is connected to natural sciences or mathematics. This also includes surveys, experiments, tests and data analysis.

Probability Theory – It is for those who are doing masters in math or statistics.  There are various theorems in this area of statistics.  You can encounter theorems, expectation, distribution and correlation.

Biostatistics – This involves analysis of data, for biological studies.

Statistical Design and Experiment Analysis – This part of the subject has various dissertations that need careful study.

Want to know more about Population and Samples?

As a beginner in statistics, if you want to know more about the population and samples studies, keep reading this. In population studies, you can find about a lot of details about a large group, by studying about a small section of the group. This is the benefit; we get from statistics. For e.g. you want to find out the average height of the people in US. Measuring the heights of a million people is a not a small task and practically impossible. So, what we do is that, we take the heights of a few people from each location in US. And, we are done, by taking out the average of the lot. That will give us the mean.

How to acquire data?

You need the best data, to get good results, isn’t it? We can get the best results from choosing different kinds of samples, like Simple Random, Stratified and Clustered. We have developed different kinds of questionnaires to find out answers. 

The next step is to organise the data

Now, the next step is to organize the data. Careful display of data is required to draw any inclusions. The common graphical representation types are:

Pie charts, Bar graphs, Scatter plots, Time plots and a few other types of representations can help draw the best conclusions.

Importance of Statistics in our life

  • So, do you have a fair idea about the weather?  So, do you know how we come to know about the weather?  Many computer models are being prepared, that can forecast weather.
  • Then, there are Statistical models used by scientist and other research people.
  • Risks of insurance, is another important field. How do companies give or sell insurance? They calculate the risks involved, by studying your data. Then. Only you receive a quotation based on the circumstances. Everything is mathematical, nothing is random.
  • Statistics also plays an important role in medical field.  Statistics show the rate of effectiveness of certain medicines.
  • We also see people making prediction in everyday life. How do they do it? Is it some act of magic? No, not at all. It is statistics.
  • Quality testing is another field in which, statistic is used. Companies manufacture so many different kinds of products. It is not possible to test all the products. Here, statistics plays an important role in determining the quality of the products.
  • Doctors also predict diseases and spread of a certain disease in the community, through statistical sampling.
  • News reporters make prediction son election results, based on Statistics, again. Government bodies rely heavily on statistics.
  • Statistical data help us to find out various degrees and categories of information, around the world. You cannot simply take millions of sample and find out the quality and other prerequisites about the same. For that you need to rely on statistics that is the only option.

Statistics, play an important role in all areas of life, be it human nature, activities, physical features, income, growth, schooling, population surveys, facilities, dissemination etc. Nowadays, statistics is used in all subjects like commerce, industry, trade, chemistry, mathematics, botany, astronomy. You name the stream; statistics is present in that stream. It is increasing the dependence day by day. It has implication sin all spheres of life. Life without statistics is incomplete.

Why People Study Statistics?

Some people might ask, “why study statistics?” or “what benefit will I derive from studying statistics?” Well, there are many reasons, for choosing this field.

Some people love to do research.  Without using statistics, it is very difficult to conduct research work. It is mandatory to collect data from samples and derive conclusions from them. Like, if we go about to study the absenteeism between two different job-types.  The first possibility is the difference between the two groups, is a result of the chance factors. In reality, the two jibs have the same amount of chance factors. Without the usage of the subject, it is very difficult to find out the exact reason.  Our decision is based on probability and inferential statistics.

Secondly, another point you should remember is to find out the method of evaluation in statistics.  You must know which type of method of data collection will be beneficial to you. Otherwise, you might end up collecting data that is not interpretable.  When, you end up doing something like this, this leads to loss of data, time and money.

Now, some of you students can tell me, that I do not want to do any research in future, then why study statistics? I want to tell you all one thing that even if you do not want to do any research, still you will find the subject peeking inside your lives.  If you, ever wish to pursue masters or doctors, you will need the subject, there is no doubt about it.  Then, again in today’s world, there is a multi-disciplinary approach to all areas.  Internal research is becoming a part of broader field.  At any point of your life, you may find yourself at the cross roads of these studies.

Many subjects at under-graduate level have these studies, where you need to know about statistics and various measurements.

Then you will also need statistics, in order to read journals.  Most high- value technical journals will contain some points in statistics.  You will find their utility in the results sections.

Without, understanding all about statistics, it is very difficult to understand about this derivation of results in the data that has been interpreted.  You need to have a basic understanding of statistics, to understand this better. You need to find out the meaning of certain types of data or evaluate research work are important prerequisites of the subject.

Next, the third reason is to develop critical thinking skills. You will need to provide logical explanation and thinking at certain times. You must think logically to find the result of certain problems. This, you can only inculcate through statistics.

The fourth reason, for you to know about statistics, is to know about it in general. Be an informed citizen. The tool of statistics can be used or misused. Some people might give you wrong data analysis in the subject. At such times, knowledge of the subject comes handy.  You can better evaluate and find out the truth behind the subject.

Then, you also need to know a little bit of statistics, to know if you need to get a professional statistician on board. Like, for example, most of you know how to fix a tyre or fix a car; however you always do not attempt to do anything, over the top to avoid harming yourself or the car. In the same manner, there will be certain times, when you will need the professional statistician’s service to make things easier for us.

If you are half-way through the knowledge, please never attempt to derive the result yourself.

So, these are some of the reasons why you should learn statistics. Half knowledge is very dangerous; however, you should have the know-how to find out why the same is required. It is very important for you to know, when to bring in a professional. We cannot do everything, on our own.

Why do some of you hate statistics?

Some people hate statistics, as they view it in a very narrow manner. People, who hate mathematics and science, perceive statistics as boring and difficult. Some people do not understand or can memorize formulas. Some people hate it, as they think; it will reveal more than they themselves know about the subject.

Basically, it is different from other subjects like physics and chemistry as they have fixed structure. However, statistics do not have any fixed structure and anytime any result can crop up.

Most students hate statistics but love maths. Why is it so? They view the applied work in statistics as boring that is why they hate statistics.  This can be a very safe reason.

Some of the students, who are studying biology, will hate statistics. However, they too have to deal with it. It comes up in Biometric Statistics. Those who study the sciences, find out that statistics is unavoidable. Math related articles are very less, cited by scientists as they simply have it. The students have to derive data from samples and that is the reason, why statistics is necessary.

Many people, who are learning the arts, hate statistics because they never learnt it. They were in a different field and all of a sudden been presented with difficult derivation and samples, may make them uncomfortable.

So, how can we make it understandable and loved?

  • The teachers need to check out the students. Different students have different capabilities.
  • Some kind of software should be introduced to check the viability of the subject.  It will make things easier.
  • You can study online and learn more about the subject.
  • You should help the students practice at their own pace.
  • There should be group interaction. That is very important.
  • Try to adapt the student to the situation.
  • You teachers can make more in-class examples for the students.  Collect data on the spot to facilitate proper learning. Make students think about social issues and solve them with statistics. These are inevitable.
  •  Teach advanced statistics to under graduates not having it as pass subject.
  • Ask the students to practice at intervals, throughout the day. This is called distributive practice. Do not try to cram them with everything, in one single day.
  • Don’t try to memorize formulas. Learn the concerts first. That is half the work done, since in future you may not recall formulas but concepts only.
  • Try to put in some psychology into statistics. Use Gestalt Theory- that states that “the whole of statistics is greater than the sum of its parts”.
  • Try to study in groups. Interchange of ideas and concepts can make the subject more approachable. You can even share your woes with other students.
  • Try to work on different variety of problems and then practice them. Take notes from different workbooks, question banks apart from your text book. That will increase your knowledge to a large extent.
  • Stop your anxiety related to math and relax. That will save you from getting nervous.  Attend some Counselling programs to ease the understanding of this seemingly difficult, but useful subject.

Author Bio

Emma McCoy is a well-known author. A professor of statistics, faculty of natural sciences and Department of Mathematics. Her research interests are Time Series, Computational statistics and Wavelets. She is the experienced online tutor who has vast knowledge on the statistics. She has done M.S. in Statistics from Hult International Business School. She is into teaching for a number of years now. She uses current methods of pedagogy to teach the students.  Through her unique teaching technique students gain clarity on the subject.  She believes that only education alone is the key to welfare of the society, globally. You can contact her for the best guidance.  

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