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.

Foundations—Assumptions

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  • Magic . . . a surprise
  • What was thought is not
  • Ignorance has teeth

Much of the math behind statistics is based on and supported by assumptions about the data, such as their level of measurement and how they are distributed. Some statistics have more assumptions than others. Some assumptions are more important under certain conditions than others. Understanding the role of assumptions means appreciating their limits.

One of these limits is the tolerance of a statistic to an assumption not being met. Statistical assumptions are technically violated, in one way or another, in the vast majority of statistics involving people. The important point to remember is that assumptions need to be met only to an appropriate extent, within the robustness of the statistic. Generally, the ...

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