Hey! Let’s all just relax about statistics.

Practical Data Management for Bug Counters

I have for years, wanted, nay, dreamed of teaching a statistics course with this title. In all my years in academia, this really seems to be where people panic the most. Heck, I’ve panicked about statistics. Who hasn’t?

But why are people panicking? For me, my panic was sheer terror at doing something wrong. Because stats- they’re objective! They’re absolute! They can be planned out completely before you even collect data! So there’s only one path to take! And then your results are significant, or they’re not. And if your P values are less than 0.05, publish, if not, nothing to see here. Bam, done, right? But…people are still panicking.

As an undergraduate physics student, I had very little exposure to statistics per se, although, as you can imagine, we did talk a lot about experimental uncertainty. We used equations to predict the behavior of things (think: a cylinder rolling…

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