A Necessary Revolution !

Categories: An Introduction
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Published on: March 9, 2010

Welcome to the collaboratory for Statistical Literacy!

Statistical thinking will one day be as necessary for efficient citizenship as the ability to read and write”

~ HG Wells (1866-1946)

Existentially! We are ‘thrown ‘into uncertainty. Yet we must necessarily make choices by continously reducing the margin of error in our decisions and actions.

There are several reasons why I believe that this blog would be of interest to you:

  1. Developments in the field of statistical pedagogy have come to recognize a separate domain of statistical thinking, besides the traditional notion of statistical methods. This revolution can be summarized as follows:a. The field of exploratory data analysis that gives priority to visual tools to gain insight from data.b. The availability and use of technology that has made statistical methods more accessible to all. This has made possible a preponement in the exposure to advanced techniques like regression, but not without the risk of mindless misapplication and disregard for quality of data.

    c. The development of simpler statistical methods in statistical process control has further democratized the use of statistics in real time practice. This has implications for medicine which has traditionally seen statistics purely as a tool in medical research.

  2. The fields of cognitive and development psychology have contributed greatly to the understanding of how we make sense of data. Though they do not always agree! Statistical thinking in a broader sense is also a favorite contender for contemporary models of general reasoning in cognitive science.

These developments offer the greatest advantages to introductory courses in statistics and yet have has been very little impact in the teaching of statistics in medical and healthcare institutions. Further more, the application of statistics in clinical practice is still not as widespread as it should be.The aim of this blog is the advocacy of statistical thinking in medicine and healthcare.

I have been a keen student of these developments for quite some time now and I wish to share this ‘basic’ knowledge with medical and other healthcare students and practitioners. The position I assume in this exercise is as a fellow student and I hope professionals in statistics, psychology and informatics would be willing to contribute to the discussion, as well as correct any errors in my understanding.

The strength I hopefully bring to this blog is a broad based interest in the psychology, history and philosophy of statistics, of science, of information and the conviction that statistical thinking is indispensable to all parts of medical and healthcare science and practice. I hope to pull together as much resources that would be invigorating to any one beginning their journey of self- learning in statistical thinking. To travel along all you need is a little enthusiasm and an open mind.….

  1. Chris Palmer says:

    Agree with you and look forward to seeing this blog developing! Stumbled across your site when searching for that HG Wells quote. I have privilege of teaching medical statistics to current and future doctors at Cambridge University, and make it my aim to increase their statistical thinking (awareness of applications, so much more so than technical how-to-do-the-computations stuff!)

  2. statistical says:

    It is a privilege to have your encouraging comments on this blog! Your well known views on teaching medical statistics “precisely what we teach is actually less important than how we teach’ [ of course in the context of continuing Hypothesis Tests in the curriculum] are not without general influence in the future content of this blog too. The idea of this blog was born out of reflection upon the enthusiasm that medical undergraduates showed towards statistics! – here I am talking about large numbers, as the University of Pondicherry had an innovative strategy of including modules of community medicine in all the years of medical training, though the students give their exams in the final year- from my limited ‘adventures’ in teaching medical statistics . I say adventures because I do not have formal qualification in statistics. It may be hard to rework Martin Bland’s observation: ‘Medical students may not like statistics but as doctors they will’. I thought it was nevertheless worth trying and therefore the intent to focus on psychology, methodlogy and technology of statistics on this blog. Thank you once again.

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