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.

Scarcity—Small Data

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  • Not much on the plate
  • Was looking forward to more
  • Must live on what’s there

Not so much missing data, per se, but more of a paucity of cases. Statistical models require various numbers of cases to become stable (i.e., to generate robust estimates). At times, that number can get quite large—larger than the number of cases available to build a sound model. Rather than give up, statisticians have developed a range of approaches that capitalize on trends over time to stabilize estimates, starting with a linear trend.

A linear trend removes the bouncing ball effect seen on graphs where small data are suspected present. From a policy-relevance perspective, removing some of that up-and-down noise can help develop a better perspective on the data. In ...

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