S110 | 4095 | Nenga

OPEN TO FRESHMEN & SOPHOMORES ONLY Gregg Easterbrook once said “Torture numbers, and they’ll confess to anything.” In this course, we will take an introductory look at the world of number torturing. By the end of this course, you should be able to manipulate numbers properly, and you should be able to tell when others have been torturing the numbers to make them lie. Students with math anxiety are particularly welcome in this class. Charts, Graphs and Tables blends a course in quantitative reasoning (some would say number torturing) with an introductory sociology class. Some days we will talk more about sociological tools and concepts, and other days we will focus more on quantitative reasoning concepts. We will start off the semester by turning a sociological eye on ourselves, and examining various aspects of college: grading, drinking, cheating and so on. We will use this to learn how sociologists ask questions, and what the basic theoretical approaches are. Then we will move on to a topic that is only slightly more serious than college: disaster and death. In this section, we will learn how to construct tables and interpret them. After that we will look at the relationships between flu vaccines and paralysis, cholera and pump handles, and asthma and roaches. In this third section on health and medicine, we will look at how sociologists ask and answer more complicated questions about intervening variables and spurious relationships. In our final section, we will revisit the topic of college to determine how sociologists use graphs to present answers to their questions. This subject matter is best learned by doing rather than reading. As a result, the reading load for this course is light (about 10-15 pages per night). However, the homework load is quite heavy. There are 4 assignments (which may be done with a partner) and 3 exams. In addition, students work in groups of 4 to design, administer, analyze and present the results of a survey. This group project has 5 due dates spread throughout the semester. Note: This course replaces S100 as the required introductory course for sociology.