When you meet a new person, it is hard to know what to expect. You may not be able to read the person or understand what they mean. Even if you want to have a good relationship with them, this lack of understanding can make interactions tense, unpredictable and scary! The same is true for a lot of people as they encounter statistics and mathematical ways of working with data. Statistics can be confusing and opaque. Symbols, Greek letters, very large and very small numbers, and how to interpret all of this can leave to feeling cold and disengaged—even fearful and resentful.
But in the modern information age, having a healthy relationship with statistics can make life a whole lot easier. We are constantly faced with an onslaught of data and claims about it—from news articles, to Facebook and blog posts, casual and professional conversations, reports at our workplace, advertising, and claims from politicians and public officials. How can we process that information, make sense of it, evaluate truth claims, and put ourselves in a position to act on the information? One of the most important ways is by befriending statistics and consistently using statistical ways of thinking.
The purpose of this course, then is to help you develop a functional, satisfying, and useful life-long relationship with statistics. To achieve that goal, we will take a non-technical approach—you will learn how statistics work and why they are so helpful in evaluating the world of information that is around us. You will learn about the logic of statistical thinking and the concepts (rather than the mathematical details and probability theory) that guide statistical inferences and conclusions.
You do not need to be a math whiz to take this course. If you can add, subtract, multiply, and divide (or just be able to use a calculator to do that!), you will be more than able to handle what will happen as this relationship develops.
By the end of the course you will be able to:
- Identify the most important features of a data set
- Select a statistical test based on the features of the data
- Think like a statistical detective
- Understand the relationship between two different characteristics or variables
- Perform some simple statistical calculations and draw some conclusions from real data
- Hopefully, love stats!
We’ll do all of this using entertaining examples related to real-life situations we all encounter in everyday life.