Truth from numbers


November 24, 2006

This book is a primer in statistics for students of the social and biological sciences. It starts with a detailed treatment of summary statistics and the display of data, using graphical methods, including histograms, bar charts and scatterplots. Experimental design is covered, as are measures of association and the standard array of hypothesis tests.

What is commendable is that the authors never lose sight of the fact that statistics have their basis in probability theory. Towards the end of the book, statistical modelling, regression and logistic are explored. Each section poses a question about the data, followed by a conceptual background with a "think it through" section. Finally, a more detailed approach based on calculation is taken.

All sections are illustrated with examples and have review questions. This approach emphasises the relationship between data and questions about them.

One never gets the impression that data exist simply to illustrate the statistical method, so students interested primarily in the subject matter, rather than in the statistical approach, will not feel the analysis of data is irrelevant.

This book would be valuable for teachers in the higher levels of schools, and for humanities students at universities.

David Lucy is lecturer in mathematics and statistics, Lancaster University.

Statistics: The Art and Science of Learning from Data. First Edition

Author - Alan Agresti and Christine Franklin
Publisher - Prentice Hall
Pages - 693
Price - £41.99
ISBN - 0 13 008369 0

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