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.

Real or Not—Outliers

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  • A snake!
  • Coiled rope
  • Bitten anyway

Outliers are data that are outside the typical range of values for a given situation. They can be real, or they can be one of many types of data errors. The idea behind outlier removal is to figure out which of the data are likely to be genuine and which are likely to be spurious. Real data that do not correspond to what typically is expected can contain valuable information on how they got there. This type of information helps us understand the true drivers of complex systems.

Deciding which data are real and which are likely to be mistakes is frequently reduced to a series of educated guesses. Importantly, these seemingly minor decisions about outliers can produce ...

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