Statistics as Principled Argument

In 1995, Yale University Professor Robert Abelson (1928-2005) wrote an interesting and engaging treatise on a topic that, on the face of it, seems obvious. He presents this in his text, “Statistics As Principled Argument”. The book is a quick and easy read and I would recommend it to anyone, whether or not they are into statistics. The concepts are presented in a way accessible to most readers.

The book begins, appropriately enough, with Abelson’s Laws which are:

  1. Chance is lumpy.
  2. Overconfidence abhors uncertainty.
  3. Never flout a convention just once.
  4. Don’t talk Greek if you don’t know the English translation.
  5. If you have nothing to say, don’t say anything.
  6. There is no free lunch.
  7. You can’t see the dust if you don’t move the couch.
  8. Criticism is the mother of methodology.

The meaning of each of the above becomes clear as the text proceeds through the 9 chapters that follow.

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R you ready for statistics?

The R program for statistics is an amazingly powerful and completely free program (under the terms of the Free Software Foundation’s GNU General Public License).  If you have any need to do statistics, then you really must take a look at R or, more formally, “The R Project for Statistical Computing“.

What exactly is R?  Simply put, “R is a language and environment for statistical computing and graphics.”  It is a special open-source implementation of S which is one of the earlier statistical programming languages.
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