Statistics
For Today’s Graduate, Just One Word: Statistics
Statistics,
like calculus, is one of the key and integral languages of science.
Every American ideally should have a rudimentary understanding of
statistics or at least statisticallyoriented economics coursework by
the time they enter the working world. It is statistics that
makes one a smarter shopper, consumer, driver,
reader and thinker. Understanding confidence intervals, pvalues, bias,
trends, hidden variables and sampling methods are key to cutting
through the lies dished out to us daily through the media.
Essentially every "study" presented to us with buzzworthy findings on
health, medicine, economics and public perception is riddled with holes
in each's statistical makeup. Completion of only an elementary
collegelevel course in my mind gives every American the ability to
question a
study's findings, the awareness to avoid the lottery, scams, any casino
game with a house edge for life, as well as the ability to effortlessly
question the claims of scam artists worldwide. Instead of
simply accepting information, Americans must routinely
question everything read with statistics as the interrogator. Was the
sample size adequate? N=10,100,1000, 1,000,000? Pvalue? Outliers?
Interference? Correlation coefficient? Standard deviation? Mean?
Lurking variables? Look at the application of statistics in this
articlea perfect case
in point. What is the probability of your completing a PhD programme
and subsequently landing a fantastic job at Google? Not good, not good
at all. Alan, Pacific Beach, CA
August 6th, 2009
I
see a lot of confusion over what statistics actually IS. There are a
lot of jobs that only require the skills taught in an introductory
statistics course, and due to the availability of data, the number of
these jobs might be growing. However, companies like Google,
Microsoft and Netflix are asking statistical questions that are way
beyond anything that is even seen in a first year grad course. They
range from discerning topics in online articles to predicting user
preferences given past behaviors to modeling language structure. At
this level, statisticians need not only the mathematical tools taught
at a PhD level, but they also need a tremendous amount of creativity
and insight to find workable solutions. Statisticians
are not just "number crunchers." The best ones are closer to
artists, trying to find elegant summaries of their world (and trying to
make their computers do all of the hard work). LH, New Jersey
August 6th, 2009
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Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science _______________________________________________________________________________
Op/ed: Why everyone should take Statistics _______________________________________________________________________________
Odds Are, It's Wrong Science fails to face the shortcomings of statistics
