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Pros and cons of statistics with example

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Bring to mind a research question that interests you, or a current event that utilizes statistics to present results, that you can use as an example for this discussion. State the research question or the current event and results.

Based on what you have learned, and using your example, how do you believe statistics can enrich and represent the results of a study? How can statistics be used to misrepresent the results of a study?

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There are lots of things you could discuss as current events. Two ideas that come to mind immediately are:

1. If you're in Canada, there's a lot of information in the news right now about gender inequality in academia, namely that women are under-represented. A recent push to get top-notch academics to come to Canada didn't include any women. People supporting the lack of women in this push (The Canadian Excellence Research Chair Program) argue that women simply aren't as commonly represented in the sciences and engineering, and that this justifies the fact that only men received the desirable positions. Statistics in the form of frequencies are relevant to this discussion. You should be able to find some work on this if you Google things like 'gender representation in academia'.

2. Some recent work just came out on cell phones and brain cancer. Again, if you Google this topic, you'll find reference to the study. I'll leave it to you to find the results - they are interesting.

For the second part of your question:

Often, the real use of statistics is in telling us whether groups are more different than we would expect them to be by chance. Let's imagine that you design a new garden fertilizer that is supposed to improve plant growth. You select a sample of plants. After measuring their current size, you give half of them the fertilizer while the others are left to grow naturally. You think your fertilizer works, so you expect that plants given the fertilizer will have grown more than plants that were left to grow naturally when you measure their size a few weeks later.

Now imagine that you look at the growth of the two groups of plants and you find that the fertilized plants grew an average of 7 cm while the natural plants grew an average of 5 cm. You may think that this ...