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.

Ambiguity—Statistics

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  • Not enough to know
  • Just enough for a better guess
  • Statistics are born

Statistics help tame ambiguity by quantifying it (a point we will revisit a few times). In the world of statistics, if there is no ambiguity and no need to guess, we use population parameters. Where there is ambiguity, we use sample statistics. These terms have been shortened over the years to parameters and statistics. Statistics, then, are ways to make educated guesses. They might do so with a remarkable flair for Greek letters and long equations, yet they are guesses nonetheless.

Samples have sampling error, again by definition. All statistics start from samples and have various amounts and kinds of sampling error. Samples can even be samples in time but must be samples ...

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