Are there benefits to gaining a strong statistical background?

Working towards and achieving a strong statistical background is something that excites some and baffles others. I am of the latter, but there is no doubt there are benefits. Being competent in the use of statistics offers the chance for not only psychologist, but a variety of scientists to follow a strong career in the world of research.

Statistics gives weight to an argument, helps develop a gendered analysis and also helps to clearly express the key points in your work.  Without the support of inferential statistics, all scientific researchers will find difficultly in being able to substantiate their claims and theories.

On the other hand, it is important to recognise that statistics are notoriously unreliable. On the surface they can be presented as being advantageous to the researcher, in as much as they appear to support their theory.  However, put those statistics under the microscope and they can often hide as much information as they show. A recent example of such a statistic presented itself on the BBC news website. Research had been done to show that if women drink four or more cups of coffee a day it can reduce the chance of  developing depression by 20%. Sounds great! But what if the chance of you developing depression was just 5%, not an unlikely figure by any means, then you’ve only reduced the risk to 4%, not much a news story anymore.

Nevertheless, few can argue that by gaining an advanced knowledge in statistics, any aspiring scientific researcher will be benefiting their career. But the stigma that surrounds statistics in relation to reliability can unfortunately leave researchers and theorists in a constant battle of disputing arguments.

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8 responses to this post.

  1. Hi
    I totaly agree with first two of your paragraphs. The third one its good aswell but as long statistics can be unreliable , statistical knowledge can also point out the mistakes and hidden truth ,therefore its beneficial to those peaople that poses them. Your conlusion is outstanding aswell. Looking forward of seeing your next post .

    Reply

  2. Well done on your blog, I was particularly interested in the point you made about the study into drinking coffee and depression and that statistics are often misinterpreted or false claims are made. Your first two paragraphs were also written well and made valid points. One thing I would say is that it would have been beneficial to perhaps add the use of statistics in other areas of life other than scientific research, such as advertising, government statistics, private company statisitics, etc.
    Looking forward to reading your next blog.

    Reply

  3. Hello, 🙂
    Well done on your first blog, I too agree that there can be continual battles between researcher, and the use of a strong statistical background can have its advantages for this. As nothing in science can be proven right, it can only be falsified – therefore the more stronger statistical background a psychologist can gain, the more likely debates and findings are going to occur.
    Awesome blog!
    Looking forward to the next one! 🙂

    Reply

  4. I liked that you pointed out that without statistics scientists would find communicating and crediting their research extremely difficult. Do you then feel that only scientists really need a strong statistical background to support their research? (I haven’t really thought about it before but) how do you think people all over the world ( not in scientific industries) manage without a background in statistics? I’d like to hear your views on these questions. Maybe you could incorporate them in a future post.
    By the way…Congrats on your first blog, i’m looking forward to reading more 🙂

    Reply

  5. Hi, I really enjoyed reading your blog. I like your use of the example of the BBC which is a really good real life example and shows brilliantly how statistics can be unreliable especially when taken out of context.

    Your blog is really well written, and you don’t get bogged down by the argument and your conclusion is well formed and relevant.

    Reply

  6. Great blog I really enjoyed your entry it’s well written and interesting. I specially enjoyed the addition of statistics not being as reliable as some people might think. No one else I’ve read had included that and neither had I. I’m glad you pointed it out because the example is absolutely brilliant and extremely relevant to the topic. It’s kind of like interest rates in the bank they seem huge but it’s only annual and at the end of the day we all put money in the bank so a robber doesn’t steal it from the dirty sock under the bed we kept the money in previously. It’s the same in a way as your example because the financial gain you’re gonna get is tiny but it’s not non-existant.

    Reply

  7. Good first blog, enjoyed reading it. The point you made about statistics of the coffee was interesting, as i once saw somewhere that the chances of you getting would half if you ate a certain food. They didnt tell you the chances went from like 200000 to 100000 to 1. This is unclear for the people reading it obviously, and the person will obviously just assume that its best not to have that anymore when really the chances are still ridiculously high anyway. Another good thing you have good is put both sides to the argument and then conclude by putting the two arguments. Looking forward to reading your next blog.

    Reply

  8. I really don’t think that statistics can be unreliable, the statistics are merely the result of the influence of variables. It is only the way in which the researchers present the information that can distort it.

    Reply

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