Do you want to see the world more clearly? Learn to think like a statistician and question the numbers all around you? Make better decisions at work, when investing, and in life? Then you are in the right place.
This course is not a regular introduction to statistics. There will be very little math so you won’t be asked to complete lots of mathematical problem sets. The focus of the course will be on the intuition and practical application of statistics in making better decisions and judgments. We will explore the fundamental ideas and concepts of statistics but with with everyday examples, answering questions such as: if correlation does not equal causation, then what does? have humans really wiped out 60 percent of animals? and do 9 out of 10 dentists actually recommend this toothpaste?
You will learn how not to be fooled by data visualizations, and how an understanding of probability can change the way you view everything from prosecuting criminals to financial crises.
The course has two sections diving into the world of cognitive bias and the work of Hans Rosling on Factfulness thinking. Our inherent mental biases can affect the way we perceive and interact with the statistics we encounter every day; whether in the news, on social media, or in advertisements. The goal of this section is to learn how to spot these logical fallacies so we can keep them at bay and interpret the world around us more objectively.
In the penultimate section, we shall encounter the tricky world of inference, causation, and the trusty work-horse of statistics; regression analysis. This section will explore everything from buying apples, to p-hacking, and to what caused physician John Ioannidis to proclaim that "most published research findings are false".
The final section will look at prediction and forecasting; exploring why predictions fail, how they can succeed, and if perfect prediction will ever be possible (or indeed desirable).
With a world of information now at our fingertips, being able to think statistically is an essential skill for all those living in the 21st century. Indeed as Herbert George Wells said, “statistical thinking will one day be as necessary for efficient citizenship as the ability to read and write” – and that day has come.
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