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Topic: The Emperor's New Pentium
Replies: 3   Last Post: Apr 11, 1996 5:34 PM

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HOROWITZ@rsflnk.ed.ray.com

Posts: 4
Registered: 12/6/04
The Emperor's New Pentium
Posted: Apr 9, 1996 6:24 PM
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Well, call me a wet blanket, for I believe the following four statements are
dead wrong:


"The fundamental tool of data analysis is the computer."
"Because the computer is central to what statisticians do..."
"While it would be ideal for students to have access to a computer...."
"...reluctance to provide students with the POWER THAT THEY DESERVE."



The "fundamental tool[s]" of data analysis are UNDERSTANDING the question we
really wanted answered, JUDGING whether the data was collected according to
some protocol that would help answer that question, and KNOWING what the
different statistical procedures really do to a data set.

Professional statisticians may spend lots of time working WITH computers, but
that doesn't make the computer any more "central" to the statistician's
justification-for-existence than his/her coffee cup is.

The more time that an "Statistics 101" student spends fiddling with a computer,
the more distracted s/he is from the real assignment - gaining understanding of
what it means to measure uncertainty.

I'm not a teacher - I'm a working engineer. Please don't send me graduates who
are practiced in running this or that menu-option of this or that commercial
stat software. That's what clerks are for. Send me a grad who can tell a
manager that he needs to be in the coffee-klatsch that _designs the
experiment_, not the one that gets handed a diskette of resulting data.

Not much rubber meets the road in Academia, it seems!


-- Alan Horowitz
horowitz@rsflnk.ed.ray.com





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