Academic Advice, Research

New Years Resolution: Fall in Love… with Statistics

Statistics booksHere’s what my desk looked like over winter break. Why? Because it’s time to get over my love-hate-distrust-dislike relationship with statistics.

I’ve never particularly disliked math itself; there’s something comforting about having at least one endeavor in life that has an identifiable “right” answer. In fact, if you’re ever stressed about a major life decision, try reviewing high school algebra; balancing equations can be oddly – yet incredibly – therapeutic (Yes, “Nerd alert.” But don’t knock it till you’ve tried it).

Statistics, however, takes all that comfort of certainty away.  

In my first statistics class, I once made the fatal flaw of statistical newbie-ism and used the word “prove” in a sentence. Before I could finish saying “The results prove that…” the professor held up his hand and said – what has since become my mantra when it comes to statistics – “We don’t PROVE anything in statistics.”

Yes, statistics is a powerful tool for exploring relationships and probabilities, but it doesn’t necessarily set out to prove things.Take vitamins for example: Continue reading “New Years Resolution: Fall in Love… with Statistics”