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.

Pictures—Graphs

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  • Closer, maybe squint
  • You give it shape
  • Meaning appears

Graphs are important for many of the same reasons that distributions are important, plus one more that is critical: Graphs are pictures. Most people are visual learners, and there is real advantage to capitalizing on that fact. Vision is packed with information about our environment. Used in reports, graphs are concise conveyances for much information. Graphs help inform statisticians on the likelihood that their assumptions (such as heteroscedasticity and linear versus curvilinear relationships, but these need not concern us here) are met.

Statistics in a vacuum are about as useful as a burnt match. Graphs communicate a sense of context, bringing meaning to the statistics. Yet, like a magician’s hands, graphs can mislead, either by intent or ...

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