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What Is Statistics?

Statistics involve planning, gathering, organizing, analyzing, and presenting information. In statistics, the information is called data.

A word you’ll hear a lot while working with statistics is observation. An observation is something you can detect with your senses. An example of an observation is “it’s cold today!” or “the apple is red”. The observations are the adjectives “cold” and “red”.

Another word that frequently occurs, is experiment. An experiment means that you perform a specific action several times and note your observations.

The statistics you’ll work with in school often consist of data observations, which are observations connected to a number.

Example 1

You’re going to write down what everyone in your class eats for lunch every week.

You’ll be performing an experiment.

To get information for your experiment, you’ll have to observe (look at) what everyone in your class eats for lunch. What they eat is then the observations.

Examples of observations are apple, salad, sandwich, yogurt, or similar things.

Unfortunately, statistics can be used to trick us humans. Statistics can make things seem different from what they actually are. It is therefore important that you understand when this is happening.

Think About This

You’re in the house of mirrors in an amusement park with distorting mirrors. Does your reflection look like yourself?

The distorting mirrors are made so that your reflection looks different from what you actually look like in reality. Some mirrors make you broader, other mirrors make you slimmer. Some mirrors can even make you wavy!

Even when seeing these strange reflections, you know that nothing has actually happened to your body in reality. In the same way the mirrors alter your looks, statistics can alter how information looks. Sometimes statistics can make things seem different from the truth, so don’t be fooled!

The Math Master looking at her own reflection, both normal and distorted reflections

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What Does Data Gathering Mean?