The Fundamental Gospel Of Statistics Is To Push Back The Domain Of Ignorance Prejudice Rule Of Thumb Arbitrary And Premature Decisions Tradition And Dogmatism And To Increase The Domain In Which Decisions Are Made Principles Are Formulated On The Basis Of Analyzed Quantitative Facts
In recent days, we hear talking about statistics from a common person to highly qualified person. It only show that how statistics has been intimately connected with wide range of activities in daily life. They realize that work in their fields require some understanding of statistics. It indicates the importance of the statistics.
Statistics is concerned with the scientific method of collecting, organizing, summarizing, presenting and analyzing statistical information (data) as well as drawing valid conclusion on the basis of such analysis. It could be simply defined as the “science of data”. Thus, statistics uses facts or numerical data, assembled, classified and tabulated so as to present significant information about a given subject. Statistic is a science of understanding data and making decisions in the face of randomness.
The study of statistics is therefore essential for sound reasoning, precise judgment and objective decision in the face of up- to- date accurate and reliable data. Thus many researchers, educationalists, business men and government agencies at the national, state or local levels rely on data to answer operations and programs.
THE CONCEPT OF STATISTICS
Statistics refers to a systematized body of knowledge. It studies cause and effect relationship and attempts to make generalizations in the form of scientific principles or laws. “Science, in short, is like a light house that gives light to the ships to find out their own way but doesn’t indicate the direction in which they should go.” Like other sciences, Statistical Methods are also used to answer the questions like, how an investigation should be conducted. In what way the valid and reliable conclusions can be drawn? Statistics is called the science of scientific methods.
“THE FUNDAMENTAL GOSPEL OF STATISTICS IS TO PUSH BACK THE DOMAIN OF IGNORANCE, PREJUDICE, RULE OF THUMB, ARBITRARY AND PREMATURE DECISIONS, TRADITION & DOGMATISM AND TO INCREASE THE DOMAIN IN WHICH DECISIONS ARE MADE. PRINCIPLES ARE FORMULATED ON THE BASIS OF ANALYZED QUANTITATIVE FACTS”
To justify the above statement, it is appropriate to analyze the various functions of statistics which the above statement is embedded on. Statistics performs the functions of making the numerical aspects of facts simple, precise, comparable and reliable. In fact, the various functions performed by statistics are the basis of its utility. R. W. Burgess says, “The fundamental gospel of statistics is to push back the domain of ignorance, prejudice, rule of thumb, arbitrary and premature decisions, tradition & dogmatism and to increase the domain in which decisions are made. Principles are formulated on the basis of analyzed quantitative facts.”
- Numerical and definite expression of facts: The first function of the statistics is the collection and presentation of facts in numerical form. We know that the numerical presentation helps in having a better understanding of the nature of a problem. One of the most important functions of statistics is to present general statements in a precise and definite form. Statements and facts conveyed in exact quantitative terms are always more convincing than vague utterances.
- Simplifies the data (condensation): Not only does statistics present facts in a definite form but it also helps in condensing mass of data into a few significant figures. According to A.E.Waugh, “the purpose of a statistical method is to simplify great bodies of numerical data.”In fact, human mind cannot follow the huge, complex and scattered numerical facts. So these facts are made simple and precise with the help of various statistical methods like averages, dispersion, graphic or diagrammatic, presentation, classification, tabulation etc. so that a common man also understand them easily.
- Comparison of facts: Baddington states, “The essence of the statistics is not only counting but also comparison.” The function of comparison does help in showing the relative importance of data. For example- the pass % of examination result of a college may be appreciated better when it is compared with the result of other college or the results of previous years of the same college.
- Establishment of relationship b/w two or more phenomena; to investigate the relationship b/w two or more facts is the main function of statistics. For example-demand and supply of a certain commodity, prices and wages, temperature and germination time of seeds are interrelated.
- Enlarges individual experiences: In word of Bowley, “the proper function of statistics indeed is to enlarge individual experience.” Statistics is like a master key that is used to solve problems of mankind in every field. It would not be exaggeration to say that many fields of knowledge would have remained closed to the mankind forever but for the efficient and useful techniques and methodology of the science of statistics.
- Helps in the formulation of policies: statistics helps in formulating policies in different fields, especially in economic, social and political fields. The government policies like industrial policy, export-import policies, taxation policy and monetary policy are determined on the basis of statistical data and their movements, plan targets are also fixed with the help of data.
- Helps in forecasting: statistical methods provide helpful means in estimating the available facts and forecasting for future. Here Bowley’s statement is relevant that, “a statistical estimate may be good or bad, accurate or the reverse; but in almost all cases it is likely to be more accurate than a casual observer’s impression.”
- Testing of hypothesis: statistical methods are also employed to test the hypothesis in theory and discover newer theory. For example-the statement that average height of students of college is 66 inches is a hypothesis. Here students of college constitute the population. It is possible to test the validity of this statement by the use of statistical techniques.
SCOPE/USES OF STATISTICS
Statistics is not a mere device for collecting numerical data, but also a means of developing sound techniques for their handling, analysing and drawing valid inferences from them. It is applied in every sphere of human endeavour – social as well as physical sciences – like Biology, Economics, Education, Planning, Politics, Information Technology, etc. It is almost impossible to find a single department of human activity where statistics is not applicable. We now discuss briefly the applications of statistics in other disciplines.
Statistics and Industry
In industries, control charts are widely used to maintain a certain quality level. In production engineering, to find whether the product is conforming to specifications or not, statistical tools, namely inspection plans, control charts, etc., are of extreme importance. In inspection plans, we have to resort to some kind of sampling – a very important aspect of Statistics.
Statistics and Commerce
Statistical data are lifeblood of successful trade and commerce. No business can afford to ignore the inventory or sales records by either over or under stocking of goods. In the beginning the businessperson has to study and estimate, the interplay of market forces (demand, supply and price) for his/her goods and then takes steps to adjust with his output or purchases. Thus, statistics is indispensable in business and commerce. The trend of business adjusts to a number of economic factors. In this connection, market survey plays an important role to exhibit the present conditions and to forecast the likely changes in future.
Statistics and Political Economy
Statistical methods are useful in measuring numerical changes in complex groups and interpreting collective phenomena. Nowadays the uses of statistics are abundantly made in addressing many economic and political problems and it also plays important roles in economic/political theory and practice. Alfred Marshall opines, “Statistics is the straw only which every other economist has to make the bricks.” Statistical tools are immensely useful in solving many political-economic problems such as wages, prices, production, distribution of income, wealth, population census, voting pattern, constituency delimitations and so on.
Statistics and Education
In education sector, the usefulness of statistics cannot be under- estimated since research has become a common feature in all branches of educational activities. Statistics is necessary for the formulation of policies on courses, budget estimation, consideration of facilities available and job creation for the graduates. Many scholars are engaged in research work to test the past knowledge and evolve new knowledge. These are possible only through statistics.
Statistics and Planning
Statistics is indispensable in planning in the modern world. Almost all the ministries, departments and agencies of government are seeking the help of planning for efficient operations, formulation and implementation of policies. In order to achieve this goals, the statistical data relating to all sectors of the state economy and the society at large such as production, consumption, demand, supply, prices, investments, income expenditure etc are collected through statistical techniques for processing, analysing and interpretation. In Nigeria, though not accurately available, the important roles played by statistics in planning both at the central, state and local government levels, cannot be over- emphasised.
LIMITATIONS OF STATISTICS
Since there are no roses without thorns, Statistics with all its seeming bed of roses in every sphere of human activity, have its own limitations and drawbacks some of which are itemised below.
Statistics and the Study of Qualitative Phenomena
Since statistics is a science and deals with a set of numerical data, it is applicable to the study of only these subjects of enquiry, which can be expressed in terms of quantitative measurements. In fact, qualitative phenomenon like honesty, poverty, beauty, intelligence etc, cannot be expressed in terms of number and no statistical analysis can be directly applied on these qualitative phenomena. However, statistical techniques may be applied indirectly by first reducing the qualitative expressions to accurate quantitative terms. For example, the intelligence of a group of students can be studied based on their marks in a particular examination.
Statistics and Individuality
Statistics does not attach any specific importance to the individual items rather; it deals with aggregates of objects. Individual items, when they are taken individually do not constitute any statistical data and do not serve any purpose for any statistical enquiry.
Lack of Exactitude
It is well known that mathematical and physical sciences are exact but statistical laws are not as exact but only approximations. Statistical conclusions may not have universal validity.
Misuse of Records
Statistics must be used only by experts otherwise statistical methods are the most dangerous tools in the hands of the inexperienced people. The use of statistical tools by the untrained persons might lead to wrong conclusions. It may be easily misused by quoting wrong figures of data to dress lies in the gown ‘fact’ in order to achieve a selfish interest.
In the absence of the above conditions, numerical expressions of facts cannot be treated as ‘statistics’. Therefore, one can say “all statistics are numerical data but all numerical data are not statistics.”
Today, politics and government activities depend largely, on statistical data and information forecasts of future trends and in order to show the importance of statistical studies, many Nigerian Universities include courses like statistical methods, quantitative politics or political data analysis in their social sciences programmes.
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Bluman, A. G. (2004). Elementary Statistics: A Step by Step Approach. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Gupta, C. B. (1983). An Introduction to Statistical Methods. New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House PVT Ltd.