# Sadistic Statistics

April 1, 2009 by kltangen

Filed under By The Book

Gideon Horowitz’s classic book has a name that many people can relate to. Sometimes it does seem that statistics was invented to cause us problems, rather than solve them. The fates are sadistic.

Mr. Horowitz includes a good review of math functions: fractions (adding, subtracting..), percentiles, negative numbers, and squares, roots and how to approach formulas. I assume that you have this knowledge, or can Google it. And since its 30 years since this book was written, computers and calculators are so much more accessible. So I leave all of these things to technology. I probably shouldn’t, given that our math literacy may have dropped over that same time frame. I might have to reconsider.

He spends more time on coding than I do, and covers several topic my book ignores completely (chi-square, the sign test, and Wilcoxon signed-rank test). One of Horowitz’s best illustrations is how we misuse sampling in everyday life. We meet one person but conclude that “all men are alike.” In fact, we haven’t collected much data on the subject, certainly not enough to justify such a conclusion. It’s the danger we face when we use small samples: they often lead us to unwarranted speculation.

Although the book is out of print, it’s a good read, easy to understand, and worth having if you can find a copy. The official title is Sadistic Statistics: An Intro to Statistics for the Social and Behavioral Sciences (Avery Publishing, 1979-1981).

Here is an outline of its contents, and links to my take on those topics.

##### Sadistic Statistics

Outline

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: A review of simple things

Fractions, percentiles, negative numbers

Chapter 3: Basic concepts

Variables and constants, levels of measurement,

Populations and samples

See Day 1: Measurement

Chapter 4: Organizing your data

Data tables and coding

See Day 1: Measurement

See Coding

Chapter 5: Measures of central tendency

Central tendency, mean, median & mode

See Day 2: Central Tendency

Chapter 6: Measures of dispersion

Range, variance, and Sum of Squares

See Day 3: Dispersion

Chapter 7: The normal distribution

See Day 2: Central Tendency

Chapter 8: A brief introduction to sampling and to Where it leads

Sample size, proportions, and impact of poor sampling

Chapter 9: Now do we get to probability? Probably

See Day 7: Probability

Chapter 10: The t distribution

Degrees of freedom, t-tests, and 1- and 2-tailed hypotheses

See Day 8: Independent t-Test

Chapter 11: The chi squared distribution

See Day 5: Correlation

Chapter 12: Correlation

See Day 5: Correlation

Chapter 13: Just for fun

Sign test, Wilcoxon signed ranks, phi and c coefficients

Tables