In today's world we are faced with situations everyday where statistics can be applied. Statistics can be used to determine the potential outcome of thousands of things where the human mind alone wouldn't be able to. Statistics benefits all of us because we are able to predict the future based on data we have previously gathered. Being able to predict the future not only changes our lifestyle but also helps us be more efficient and effective. Statistics is the science of collection, analysis, and presentation of data. Statisticians contribute to scientific enquiry by applying their knowledge to the design of surveys and experiments; the collection, processing, and analysis of data; and the interpretation of the results. Statisticians may apply their knowledge of statistical methods to a variety of subject areas, such as biology, economics, engineering, medicine, public health, psychology, marketing, education, and sports. Many economic, social, political, and military decisions cannot be made without statistical techniques, such as the design of experiments to gain federal approval of a newly manufactured drug. Statisticians provide crucial guidance in determining what information is reliable and which predictions can be trusted. They often help search for clues to the solution of a scientific mystery and sometimes keep investigators from being misled by false impressions
Why do we need to study statistics?
There are five major reasons to study statistics:
* The first reason is to be able to effectively conduct research. Without the use of statistics it would be very difficult to make decisions based on the data collected from a research project. For example, in the study cited in Chapter One, is the difference in recorded absenteeism between psychiatric and obstetrics nurses large enough to conclude that there is meaningful difference in absenteeism between the two units? There are two possibilities: The first possibility is that the difference between the two groups is a result of chance factors. In reality, the two jobs have approximately the same amount of absenteeism. The second possibility is that there is a real difference between the two units with the psychiatric unit being more nurses missing work. Without statistics we have no way of making an educated decision between the two possibilities. Statistics, however, provides us with a tool to make an educated decision. We will be able to decide which of the two possibilities is more likely to be true. We will base this decision on our knowledge of probability and inferential statistics.
A second point about research should be made. It is extremely important for a researcher to know what statistics they want to use before they collect their data. Otherwise data might be collected that is uninterruptable. Unfortunately, when this happens it results in a loss of data, time, and money.
Now many a student may by saying to themselves: "But I never plan on doing any research." While you may never plan to be involved in research, it may find its way into your life. Certainly, it you decide to continue your education and work on a masters or doctoral degree, involvement in research will result from that decision. Secondly, more and more work places are conducting internal research or are becoming part of broader research studies. Thus, you may find yourself assigned to one of these studies. Finally, many classes on the undergraduate level may require you to conduct research (for example, a research methods or experimental psychology course). In each of these instances, a knowledge of measurements and statistics will be invaluable.
* The second reason to study statistics is to be able to read journals. Most technical journals you will read contain some form of statistics. Usually, you will find them in something called the results section. Without an understanding of statistics, the information contained in this section will...