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BBC’s “Joy of Stats”

December 31, 2010

Awhile back, I argued here that we should be teaching more statistics in high school and college, especially over Calculus.  When I wrote before, I was thinking of skills and knowledge that includes:

  1. Ability to choose what statistical tools to use.  For example, it would be great to have students who could apply significance measures, evaluate probability and its relationship to risk and know when the average is meaningful (Normal Distribution) or nearly useless (Power Laws).
  2. Practical skills with data collection and manipulation tools such as text editors and spreadsheets, statistics packages (maybe something like R?) and moving data around. Because bigger data sets are so common and rich, it is not enough to know how to calculate the average of a few numbers with a calculator.
  3. Experience and confidence with quantitative analysis as a basis for consistent qualitative reasoning and decision making.

I was delighted to see that the BBC production “The Joy of Stats” with Hans Rosling is now available on YouTube.  This piece does a great job of showing why and what to explore with statistics.  And Hans is entertaining.

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