Quotations about Data Analysis in General

"'Common sense' is not common but needs to learnt systematically... A 'simple analysis' can be harder than it looks.... All statistical techniques, however sophisticated, should be subordinate to subjective judgement. " (Chatfield 1985)

"Thus statistics should generally be taught more as a practical subject with analyses of real data. Of course some theory and an appropriate range of statistical tools need to be learnt, but students should be taught that Statistics is much more than a collection of standard prescriptions." (Chatfield 1985)

"(1) Clarify the objectives of the investigation. (2) Collect the data in an appropriate way. (3) Investigate the structure and quality of the data. (4) Carry out an initial examination of the data. (5) Select and carry out an appropriate formal statistical analysis. (6) Compare the findings with previous results or acquire further data if necessary. (7) Interpret and communicate the results." (Chatfield 1985)

"Most users of complex statistical procedures have problems which can and should be handled with simple techniques." Andrews, 1981, quoted in (Chatfield 1985)

"More fundamentally students should be taught that instead of asking 'What techniques shall I use here?,' they should ask 'How can I summarize and understand the main features of this set of data?'" (Chatfield 1985)

"It is reassuring to see such a persuasive attempt to bury the 'cookbook,' technique-oriented approach to Statistics." ... "It is fair to say that for many data analysts, computers should be avoided; they provide the means only of getting the wrong answer more quickly and without any thought!" C. Beaumont, discussing (Chatfield 1985)

"Most real life statistical problems have one or more nonstandard features. There are no routine statistical question; only questionable statistical routines." D.R. Cox quoted in (Chatfield 1991)

"The purpose of an experiment is to answer questions. The truth of this seems so obvious, that it would not be worth emphasizing were it not for the fact that the results of many experiments are interpreted and presented with little or no reference to the questions that were asked in the first place." (Little 1981)

"To acknowledge the subjectivity inherent in the interpretation of data is to recognize the central role of statistical analysis as a formal mechanism by which new evidence can be integrated with existing knowledge. Such a view of statistics as a dynamic discipline is far from the common perception of a rather dry, automatic technology for processing data." (Berger and Berry 1988)

"...even standard statistical methods turn out to based on subjective input¾input of a type that science should seek to avoid. In particular, standard methods depend on the intentions of the investigator, including intentions about data that might have been obtained but were not." (Berger and Berry 1988)

"I am, however, appalled by the fact that some publishers of statistics packages successfully hawk their wares with the pitch that it isn't necessary to understand statistics to use them." (Cohen 1990)

"Is it more serious to convict an innocent man or to acquit a guilty? That will depend on the consequences of the error; is the punishment death or fine; what is the danger to the community of released criminals; what are the current ethical views on punishment? From the point of view of mathematical theory all that we can do is to show how the risk of errors can be controlled and minimized. The use of these statistical tools in any given case, in determining just how the balance should be struck, must be left to the investigator." (Neyman and Pearson 1933)


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