S110 | 0575 | Nenga

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. Charts, Graphs and Tables blends a course in quantitative reasoning (some would say number torturing) with an introductory sociology class. Most days we will talk more about quantitative reasoning concepts, but some days we will focus more on sociological tools and concepts. Throughout the semester we will turn a sociological eye on ourselves and examine various aspects of college such as grading, drinking, cheating and so on. At times, we will turn our sociological eyes outward and consider some of the controversies in social science statistics. We will look at how data are collected, constructed and presented in tables and graphs. At the end of this course you should be able to pick up a newspaper and critically evaluate the social science research, tables and graphs presented there. Also, you should be able to design a small scale survey and present the results accurately in a variety of workplace and community settings. In other words, 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. Through active engagement with class concepts and readings, students should develop their quantitative reasoning skills, their sociological imagination, and their ability to construct accurate and meaningful charts, graphs and tables. This subject matter is best learned by doing rather than reading. As a result, the reading load for this course is light (about 15-30 pages per night). However, the homework load is quite heavy. There are 3 assignments (which may be done with a partner) and 3 exams. Some students will 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.