Statistics Preparations: Week 2

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Statistics Preparations
Week 2: Week of September 1, 2003

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Soka University Japan - Transcend Art and Peace
Created: July 29, 2003
Latest Update: , 2003August 19, 2003
jeannecurran@habermas.org
takata@uwp.edu

Soc. 220-01: Statistics: Week 2
Preparations for Class and Internet Discussions

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Week 2: Week of September 1, 2003
Topic: What Numbers Can and Can't Do

• Topic:

Numbers are useful. You understand a lot about them intuitively, whether you know it or not. The prupose of this course is to make you more comfortable with the advantages numbers provide you in making sense of the world. That's what sociology is about. Explaining the social system to people, so they can function better in it. Then, as soon as you explain it to them, they change it to make it work better for them, so you have to study it again to explain it again, and so on. So sociology is a great job if you can get it. You keep making people happier, and they keep changing so you can keep studying them and makin them happier. (That's a variation on what Anthony Giddens once wrote in, I suspect, one of Jonathan Turner's theory texts.)

Why is it a great job if you can get it? Because there are almost no jobs called "sociologist." So you'll have to take the Social Agencies course to find out how to hunt down the right jobs. You can find lots of jobs in the criminal justice system, but we rarely send you out to work in the social justice system. Interesting, hmmm???

Hardcopy Texts:

• Read Chapters 1 and 2. pp. 1 - 24. (Lawson)
• Read Chapter 1. pp. 1 - 34. (Kendrick)

Online Texts:

• Using Tables for Note Taking Important explanation of use of tables without numbers.

Preparatory Exercises:

• Using Tables for Note Taking There's only one sample paragraph for you to make a table from. Step by step instructions are included, if you need them. We'll share this work in class, so please bring your table with you on Tuesday, September 4..

• Lectures:

• Concepts:

• heuristics - Lawson, p. 7.

• Discussion Questions:

1. What can't numbers do?

Consider your student numbers. If I know them, what do I know about you? I could tell how many of you were what gender, what age, maybe, by sorting the numbers with the school's data. But what would I know about you? Are you the number?

2. Can a research company generate the data for a local city on all their undetected alcoholics for their new MADD campaign?

Consider: What does the word "undetected" mean?

3. Can numbers tell you how many people live in Los Angeles?

4. Can numbers tell you how many smart people live in Los Angeles?

• Some Recommended Activities for Academic Assessment:

1. A Graph: Can I Believe It? Bring in a graph that confused you. We'll explain it.
2. Structure the Confusion: Bring in a confusing story. We'll graph it.

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• Texts:

• Timoth J. Lawson, Everyday Statistical Reasoning. Wadsworth and Thomson Learning. 2002. ISBN: 0-534-59094-2 (pbk). This one's much less expensive, but addresses more reasonably the part of statistics you really need: understanding.