STATISTICS: A UNIVERSAL GUIDE TO THE UNKNOWN
The academic discipline of Statistics is a branch of mathematics that develops and uses techniques for the careful collection, effective presentation, and proper analysis of numerical information. These techniques can be applied to find answers to questions that arise in all areas of human endeavor. Medical researchers use them to test the safety and effectiveness of new drugs, devices and procedures or to appraise the effects of lifestyle changes; nutritionists use them to investigate health claims associated with particular foods or dietary supplements; business executives use them to assess the results of marketing campaigns or the effect of new methods of production on product quality. Economists use them to forecast the business cycle; politicians to predict the outcome of future elections. Spies use them decipher coded messages. The list goes on. No wonder that Statistics has been called a universal guide to the unknown.
Consider, for example, your own health, which is just one among millions of topics that Statistics could address. Every day we meet new health-related stories ̶ about prescription and over-the-counter drugs, medical devices and procedures, the lifestyle we should adopt, foods we should favor, and dietary supplements that would surely add years to our lives. Rightly, we dismiss many of these stories as pure snake oil. Mayonnaise prevents Alzheimer’s? Chelation therapy blasts away arterial plaque? Food coloring lowers bad cholesterol? Cinnamon clobbers diabetes? Grapefruit erases breast cancer? Watermelon slashes prostate cancer? Come on! But what about more serious-sounding claims? True enough, reports about ACE inhibitors and beta blockers, Advil and Motrin, 64-slice CT scans and PSA tests, drug-coated stents and the DASH diet appear to be far removed from snake oil, but false claims about any of these may well occur, which makes them snake oil no less than those absurd and fantastic claims about mayonnaise and Alzheimer’s. Or consider how glowing press releases of one time, even by renowned medical journals or the Food and Drug Administration, are often followed by conflicting stories at a later time, which makes us ask: Will fancy cholesterol drugs save us from heart attacks or will they destroy our liver? Is the once-a-day baby aspirin the “cure of the century” or a stroke-causing hoax? Will Avandia fight our diabetes or give us a heart attack? A knowledge of Statistics offers a remedy: If we care to separate bogus claims from the real thing, we must adopt the special way of statistical thinking that is routinely employed by the best of those who undertake the scientific studies that alone can generate medical knowledge we can trust.
The field of Statistics, however, is so vast that no single book can reasonably cover all of it. Nor can it anticipate which topics will be of particular interest to any given person or group of them. This author, therefore, has divided the field into 24 sections that are made available as separate books in electronic form and from which prospective students and teachers can select the subset that is most useful to them. They will find Statistics to be a fascinating field that is enormously useful precisely because it enables them to do research the right way throughout their lives, whenever they need a guide through the world of the unknown.
Here is a list of books that are available at Amazon. Go to the Check out a Book section and click on a blue button to read more about any chosen book.
Book 1: The Nature of Statistics
Book 2: Learning About Excel
Book 3: Finding Existing Data: From Print to Internet
Book 4: Generating New Data: Census Taking and Sampling
Book 5: Generating New Data: Controlled Experiments
Book 6: Presenting Data: Tables and Graphs
Book 7: Presenting Data: Summary Measures
Book 8: The Theory of Probability
Book 9: Discrete Probability Distributions
Book 10: Continuous Probability Distributions
Book 11: Sampling Distributions
Book 12: Estimation
Book 13: Hypothesis Testing: The Classical Technique
Book 14: Hypothesis Testing: The Chi-Square Technique
Book 15: Analysis of Variance
Book 16: Simple Regression and Correlation
Book 17: Multiple Regression and Correlation
Book 18: Model Building with Multiple Regression
Book 19: Time Series and Forecasting
Book 20: Index Numbers
Book 21: Hypothesis Testing: Nonparametric Techniques
Book 22: Quality Control
Book 23: Decision Theory
Book 24: Issues in Medical Research