This Second Edition of The Tao of Statistics: A Path to Understanding (With No Math) provides a reader-friendly approach to statistics in plain English. Unlike other statistics books, this text explains what statistics mean and how they are used, rather than how to calculate them. The book walks readers through basic concepts as well as some of the most complex statistical models in use. The Second Edition adds coverage of big data to better address its impact on p-values and other key concepts; material on small data to show readers how to handle data with fewer data points than optimal; and other new topics like missing data and effect sizes. The book’s two characters (a high school principal and a director of public health) return in the revised edition, with their examples expanded and updated with reference to contemporary concerns in the fields of education and health.

The Beginning — The Question

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  • The world is hazy
  • No clean lines or sharp points
  • Focus the camera

The world of statistics starts with a question. Many types of statistics exist because questions can be of almost any type, can be about almost anything, and can take place under quite varied conditions. This variety calls for an almost equal number of statistical approaches to answers.

Statistics need data. Data come from measures. Good answers to important questions require good data from relevant measures. Good measures are specific and, through that specificity, are informative. If the selected measures do not directly address the questions, the statistics can be meaningless because they will have lost their context.

Statistics become important when they are about things that people consider important. In this ...

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