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Quantitative Data and Probability Introduction

  • There are three kinds of lies: lies, outrageous lies, and statistics.
  • 98% of all statistics are made up.
  • Statistics can be made to prove anything—even the truth.

We've heard all of these, and more, a thousand times before. In this lesson, though, we're going to stand up for statistics. It's the collection and analysis of data, especially quantitative data. Y'know, stuff that can be measured and verified.

Sure, it can be abused and misused, but it can also answer questions nothing else can. How many people worldwide are taller than Leonardo DiCaprio? Could we win an election for president? How much wood can woodchucks chuck? These are life's burning questions.

Before we get to the stats, though, we'll beef up our probability toolkit by finding expected values for events. Then we'll take a look at the data distribution superstar, the normal distribution. Then we'll finally look at how to collect and analyze data the right way.

By the end of all this, you'll be saying, "I love statistics almost as much as I love Shmoop. I'm going to send them a thank-you card and a sack of money." Okay, maybe you won't send us a card.

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