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The Statistical Imagination

Chapter 1. The Statistical


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The Field of Statistics

As a field of study, statistics is a
set of procedures for gathering,
measuring, classifying, coding,
computing, analyzing, and
summarizing systematically
acquired numerical information

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Applications of Statistics
Scientific applications: A tool for
testing scientific theories
Practical applications : Used by
marketing advertisers, policy
makers, public health officials,
insurance underwriters, educators,
survey firms, stock investors and
analysts, and odds makers
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The Statistical Imagination

An appreciation of how usual or
unusual an event, circumstance, or
behavior is in relation to a larger
set of similar events, and an
appreciation of an events causes
and consequences

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Features of the
Statistical Imagination
It is a balanced way of observing the
It involves the ability to think through
a problem and maintain a sense of
proportion when weighing evidence
against preconceived notions
It helps us to understand that most
events are predictable
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Linking The Statistical and

Sociological Imaginations
Social reality is normative:
interpretation depends on the place,
time, and culture
Statistical norms are measurements of
social norms
Statistical ideals often reflect social
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Tools for Proportional

Data: Systematically acquired
information, following the
procedures of science and
Statistical error: Known degrees of
imprecision in procedures used to
gather information
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Two Purposes of Statistics

Descriptive statistics: Used to tell
us how many observations were
recorded and how frequently each
score or category occurred
Inferential statistics: Used to show
cause and effect relationships and
to test hypotheses and theories
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What is Science?
Science is the systematic study of
empirical phenomena
Empirical means observable and
Phenomena are facts,
happenstances, events, or
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The Purpose of Science

The purpose of scientific investigation
is to explain things
These explanations take the form of
theory : A set of interrelated, logically
organized statements that explain a
phenomenon of special interest, and
that have been corroborated through
observation and analysis
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The Limitations of Science

Restricted to examining empirical
Many sound, factually based
scientific arguments lack political or
taxpayer support
Ethical dilemmas often arise
creating resistance to its application
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Data and Variables

Data: Systematically acquired
Variables: Measurable phenomena that
vary or change over time, or that differ
from place to place or from individual to
Constants: Characteristics of study
subjects that do not vary
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Study subjects
Study subjects: The people or
objects under scientific
Variation: How much the
measurements of a variable differ
among study subjects

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A Hypothesis
A prediction about the relationship
between two variables, asserting
that differences among the
measurements of an independent
variable will correspond to
differences among the
measurements of a dependent
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Independent and
Dependent Variables
Dependent variable: The variable
whose variation we wish to explain
Independent variables: The predictor
variables that are related to, or predict
variation in, the dependent variable

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Relationships Between
Independent and Dependent


(action taken)
Correlation: measures of the two
variables fluctuate together
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The Research Process

Involves organizing ideas into a
theory, making empirical
predictions that support the theory,
and then gathering data to test
these predictions
Cumulative process a continual
process of accumulation of
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7 Steps of the Research

Specify the research question
Review the scientific literature
Propose a theory and state hypotheses
Select a research design
Collect the data
Analyze the data and draw conclusions
Disseminate the results
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Mathematical Proportions
Division problems that weigh a part (the
numerator) against a whole (the
Proportional thinking: placing an
observation into a larger context
A sense of proportion: to see things
objectively, make fair judgements about
behavior, and give the correct amount
of attention to things that really matter
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Calculating Proportions
and Percentages
Start with a fraction
Divide the fraction to obtain a
proportion (in decimal form)
The quotient will always have
values between 0 and 1
Multiply the proportion by 100 to
change it into a percentage
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Transforming Fractions,
Proportions, and
To change a fraction into
a proportion:
Divide to decimalized
A proportion into a percentage: Multiply
by 100
A percentage into a proportion: Divide
the percentage by 100
To express a proportion as a fraction:
Observe the decimal places (See
Appendix A)
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A rate is the frequency of occurrence of a
phenomenon per a specified, useful base
number of subjects in a population
Rate of occurrence = (p) (a base number)
Rates standardize comparisons for
populations at risk
The choice of a base number depends on the
phenomenon being measured

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Presenting Answers to
Encourage Proportional


Contents of



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How to Succeed in This

Course and Have Fun
Never miss class and keep up
Organize materials in a three-ring
Use proper reading techniques
Closely follow formulas, calculation
spreadsheets, and procedures
Ask for assistance as it is needed
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Statistical Follies
Watch out for small denominators,
especially when percentage
change data is reported
A few new cases in a small group
can appear as a large percentage
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