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Spring 2012 Chap 3 & 2.6

Spring 2012 Chap 3 & 2.6 - Chapter 3 and Sec 2.6...

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Chapter 3 and Sec. 2.6 Course outline & Goals Statistics: The purpose of statistics is to gain understanding from the world around us by collecting , organizing , and interpreting data. This is NOT a math class. We will use some mathematical tools, but memorizing formulas is not the focus. This is a critical thinking class. My goal is to give you some statistical tools and principles that will help you critically view and analyze the immense amount of data, studies, articles etc. that you encounter daily. This course is divided into 2 parts: 1. Gathering and working with data (graphing, summarizing, designing studies to gather data). 2. Establishing relationships and drawing conclusions from the data (statistical inference). Statistics can be informative and can help us to make educated decisions. However, not every use of statistics in the media, politics, or our culture is legitimate. Rural vs. urban roads example: “A country drive might be relaxing, but it can also be dangerous. Forty-two percent more fatal crashes occur in rural parts of the country than on busy stretches of highways through cities and suburbs, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Thursday. Focusing on fatal crashes from 1994 through 2003, the study found rural crashes are more likely to involve multiple fatalities, rollovers, and motorists being thrown from the vehicles. Making matters worse, it takes longer for emergency medical services to arrive at the scene…In 2003, Montana led the nation with 95.4% of its fatal crashes occurring along rural roads, followed by Maine, South Dakota, and South Carolina. Rhode Island had the lowest rate with 17.7% of traffic fatalities on rural roads, followed by Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey.” (J&C 12/9/05) Suppose you want data on a question of interest to you. Question: Does chronic lack of sleep affect weight gain? (from a Journal and Courier article on December 21, 2004) What is the best approach to finding the data? It is easy to simply answer our questions based on a few observations. In this case, however we are relying on anecdotes rather than data. “My friend’s aunt said……………..” Anecdotal evidence is based on haphazardly selected individual cases which often come to our attention because they are striking in some way. These cases need not be representative of any larger group of cases. (“News of the Weird” or a “Dateline” lead story) These cases need not be representative of any larger group of cases. Anecdotal evidence is NOT good science! STAT 301 Spring 2012 Chap. 3 Page 1
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A better approach would be to head to the library or the Internet to find data to answer our questions. The library and the Internet are sources of available data. Available Data are data that were produced in the past for some other purpose but that may help answer a present question. One approach would be to head to the library or the Internet to find data to answer our questions as both are good sources of available data. However, the
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