Section 1.1

Statistics and the Social Sciences

For many students, statistics is a dirty word, second only in evil to college algebra.  It is something mathematical developed by sadistic college professors to make undergraduate students suffer, and has no application in the real world.  Its purpose is to make life hard.  This could not be further from the truth!  The actual purpose of statistics is to make life easy by simplifying and organizing information.

Most of us think of statistics as facts and figures—things like RBIs in baseball, the average temperature in July, and the number of deaths caused by drunk driving last year.  Statistics is that and much more.  We will define statistics as a set of rules and techniques for organizing, summarizing, and interpreting empirical information.

Statistics is a set of rules and techniques for organizing, summarizing, and interpreting empirical information.

Statistics also allows us to test our ideas about how the social world works.  In fact, social scientists could not search for answers to many of our most compelling questions without statistical tools.  To better understand this statement, it will be helpful to recall how social scientists answer questions about the social world.


This work is licensed under an Open Educational Resource-Quality Master Source (OER-QMS) License.

Open Education Resource--Quality Master Source License


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Last Modified:  06/28/2018

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