Use and Abuse of Statistics

Use and Abuse of Statistics

Use and Abuse of Statistics

Use and Abuse of Statistics

Excerpt

Very few people nowadays can progress very far without at some point coming into contact with statistics. The general reader who wishes to understand what it is all about will not at first want to plough his way through a text-book even though, once his interest has been aroused, he may eventually come to realize the desirability of such an action. Before this, however, he will wish to be introduced to the subject in general terms. Statistics has something to say to him and the substance of what it has to say may be imparted without too much insistence being placed upon formal proofs and demonstrations.

There are many excellent statistical text-books -- both general and specialist -- and no attempt has been made to emulate them here. A text-book is by its very nature primarily concerned with the mechanics of statistical method and the mathematical proofs of its theorems; there is usually very little space left for a general discussion of the position of the science and art of statistics with regard to the conditions in which it operates and of its relation to other branches of knowledge and inquiry with which it must cooperate.

This book is designed both for the general reader and for the student -- as an introduction for the former and as supporting reading for the latter. Its object is not merely to describe how to calculate certain statistics but also to discuss how and in what circumstances they may be used and how they should not be used. Not less important is the emphasis laid throughout upon the dangers of misinterpretation and the difficulties which often beset the statistician's path of investigation.

The book does not demand any particular aptitude for mathematics although some basic mathematical demonstrations are of course necessary. These have been included in the main body of . . .

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