Been doing a fair bit of number crunching over the past weeks doing analysis of some data that we collected from our participants about their social and academic backgrounds as well as their general goals in life. Rationale behind this is that if we find out what they want to do with their lives, we can better tailor the classes and programmes to suit these needs. After all, it’s not what we should not be teaching what we want to teach but teaching them what they want to learn. So all that involved time in front of MS Excel, trying to figure out how to work those formulas and making a feeble attempt to turn numbers into something that makes sense.
Statistics has never been my strong suit – even when I last did math many moons ago, I was better at pure math that involved theoretical concepts and calculations rather than those that dealt with the real world. And you see where those preferences led me….
So in an attempt to counter this, I present Brushstistics 101 – an introduction to the weird and often baffling (for me at least) world of statistics, interpreted by me. I shan’t bore anyone (myself included) with long tracts about distributions, regressions and correlations but instead will introduce statistics the fun way. Up first the pie chart.
Some might already know about my predilection for philosophy and the ancient world so it won’t come as a surprise that I say that I’m interested in doing an MA in Classics some time in my life. This pie chart demonstrates the most common responses that I think may get when I tell anyone about this. The little slices of the pie are not a result of being naughty or nice but amazingly enough, the wider the section, the more that particular response is given. Amazing! Incredible!
You can tell by the ‘responses’ that Classics is not only the most popular subject in the world, it’s also the most interesting. After all, who wouldn’t want to spend hours upon hours poring over musty texts of long-dead philosophers and historians in Greek or Latin? After all that, you get the pleasure of writing long arguments debating the use of the word ‘ought’ on page 568 (734b in Stephanus numbers) and how the ‘ought’ should actually be ‘should’ because of the context of the preceding paragraph. Fun no?
Anyway, enough of that now. Do stay tuned for the next instalment of Brushstistics 101 where we’ll deal with…correlation!
And remember the quote from an anonymous statistician (though aren’t they all…) – that 43% of all statistics are made up. You can tell no?