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.

Targets—Dependent Variables

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Dependent variables are the central focus of our questions. They are the things that matter for whatever issue is being addressed, the targets of models. As such, dependent variables tend to be the measures that really interest people. Specifically, people want to understand which issues affect variation in the values of the measures for these variables, so that they can try to influence them. This understanding forms the very foundation for public policy and its research.

The level of measurement for a dependent variable can profoundly influence the choice of statistical technique in the more complex models. Think hard about how your dependent variables are measured and structured. A conversation with a statistician ...

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