EDUCATION: The Scoop on Stats

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Science  15 Jun 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5524, pp. 1971
DOI: 10.1126/science.292.5524.1971e

Although Mark Twain disparaged them as the worst form of fibbing, statistics have become indispensable to scientists in almost every discipline. If you're looking for a clear, basic stats how-to, drop by this site created by David Lane, a psychologist and statistics expert at Rice University in Houston. Lane's starter kit includes his own online statistics textbook, on-site tools for crunching your own data, and plenty of links to more stats software. It's intended not just for novices who don't know a t-test from a P value, but for anyone who wants a quick refresher.

What sets the site apart from other Web stats primers are the interactive demonstrations of key concepts, such as distributions and sampling, and the case studies drawn from published papers. Guiding you step-by-step, these clear examples investigate timely questions, ranging from what type of low-fat diet is healthier to whether smiling wins more lenient punishment for offenders. (It seems to, so keep grinning during that IRS audit.) Lane wraps up the studies with cautionary words about what we can—and can't—conclude.

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