From Religions Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
For more information, see the Wikipedia article:

Along with probability, upon which it is mostly based, statistics is a mathematical discipline which provides techniques for drawing conclusions from observed data. It is heavily relied upon in most scientific fields (experiments and observational studies), as well as in business and industry (marketing, operations management, economic analysis, quality control) and government (public polling, policy analysis). Appropriate application of statistics requires rigorous research methodology as well as some background in statistical analysis.

Statistics can be divided into two large subfields, descriptive statistics and inferential statistics:

Descriptive statistics 
Numerical and graphical summaries of data — i.e., "charts and graphs". These are more in the public eye (think USA Today), but they can be used by unscrupulous sorts to mislead ("lies, damned lies, and statistics").
Inferential statistics 
Probability-based analysis used to infer something about a larger, mostly unobserved, population based on what is seen in a sample from that population. While the results of statistical analyses are often reported in the mainstream media (medical studies and the like), the details of the statistics behind them are usually left out and can often only be found in academic journals.

Statistical significance[edit]

A central idea in inferential statistics that is widely misunderstood is statistical significance. In an experiment to test, say, whether a new drug to treat a disease is more effective than the old, standard treatment, the degree of improvement the new drug provides is said to be statistically significant if it is so large that it would be unlikely to occur in a similarly sized sample if, in fact, there is actually no overall benefit of the drug when given to the entire population of such patients. See the statistical significance article for more information.

v · d Science
v · d General science
Scientific method   Scientific theory · Hypothesis · Evidence · Examining claims · Skepticism
Scientific Disciplines   Physics · Biology · Chemistry · Psychology · Medical Science · Mathematics
History of science   Heliocentrism · Quantum mechanics
Champions of reason   Carl Sagan · James Randi

v · d Biology
Evolution   Natural selection
Abiogenesis   The Urey-Miller experiment
Evolutionary straw men   Life just exploded from nothing · So you think we came from monkeys · How did the first dog find a mate · Crocoducks · Banana argument · 747 Junkyard argument · Irreducible complexity · Chuck Missler's jar of peanut butter · What good is half a wing?
Notable Biologists   Charles Darwin · Richard Dawkins · PZ Myers
Notable quacks   William Dembski · Michael Behe · Geoffrey Simmons · Ken Ham · Michael Cremo

v · d Physics
Concepts   Cosmology · Big bang · Relativity theory · Black holes · Quantum mechanics
Physics straw men   Fine-tuning argument · Anthropic principle
Notable Physicists   Isaac Newton · Albert Einstein · Richard Feynman · Stephen Hawking
Notable Quacks   Dinesh D'Souza · Ray Comfort

v · d Mathematics
Statistics   Sample size · Selection bias · Standard deviation · Statistical significance · Statistical probability · Meta probability · Gambler's fallacy
Mathematics and religion   Biblical value of pi