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.

Two Types—Descriptive and Inferential

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  • Knowing this
  • Projecting that
  • Reach can exceed grasp

The two basic branches of statistics are descriptive and inferential. Descriptive statistics discuss the data at hand. No projections are made to larger or other groups. Meaningful comparisons are not made, because doing so directly would not accommodate sampling error. Yet a fundamental goal of statistics is to be able to project findings to larger groups or to compare groups. When inferences are made about overall populations from the findings in samples, or a comparison of group characteristics is needed, we are using inferential statistics. As we do this, we accommodate sampling error and generate educated guesses by way of p values (described later in the book, specifically in Chapter 32).

Simply put, descriptive statistics ...

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