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Diving into statistics

posted 18 Jan 2012, 03:55 by David Sherlock   [ updated 18 Jan 2012, 03:56 ]

Trying to get my head around statistics and R, one book claims:

Statistical analysis can help us to clarify and judge the patterns we think we see, as well as revealing, out of the mess, effects that may be otherwise difficult to discern. It can be used as a tool to explain the world around us, and perhaps equally importantly, to convince others of the correctness of our explanations. This emphasis on informed judgement and convincing others is important: ideally, statistics should aid a clear explanation, rather than blind by force of argument.”

Last week I had been thinking about visualisations as a way to demonstrate potential patterns in data sets. I would go as far as saying that if there is no pattern in the data, then it wasn’t worth doing. This means I am left with two obvious but difficult questions:

1) How do I clarify and judge the patterns that I think I see

2) How do I visualise them

If the quote from this book is anything to go by then statistical analysis of data should be at the heart of any of my visualisations. Initially the idea of getting my head around the maths involved was slightly disheartening, although the text states:

“But if an analysis can only be understood by statisticians, it has, to a great extent, failed. For an analysis to convince an audience, one or more reasonable explanations for a situation should carefully and comprehensibly lay down”.

The plan of action to help answer these questions is to:

1) Get stuck into this book

2) Use some of Adams examples