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.

Reductionism—Models

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  • Too much to carry
  • What is needed?
  • Ignore the rest

Models are useful distillations of reality. Although wrong by definition, they are the wind that blows away the fog and cuts through the untamed masses of data to let us see answers to our questions. Models try to focus on the salient qualities important to answering our questions. Models reduce reality to an amount of information that can be handled. While researchers whittle through masses of data, they make many decisions that could alter the results of a study—so many decisions that they can rarely all be reported, even if documented at the time. Many of these decisions are later thought to be plausible confounds and are resolved in subsequent work, resulting in different findings. ...

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