Going beyond the book: Toward critical reading in statistics teaching

Gelman, Andrew E.

We can improve our teaching of statistical examples from books by collecting further data, reading cited articles, and performing further data analysis. This should not come as a surprise, but what might be new is the realization of how close to the surface these research opportunities are: even influential and celebrated books can have examples where more can be learned with a small amount of additional effort. We discuss three examples that have arisen in our own teaching: an introductory textbook that motivated us to think more carefully about categorical and continuous variables; a book for the lay reader that misreported a study of menstruation and accidents; and a monograph on the foundations of probability that overinterpreted statistically insignificant fluctuations in sex ratios.


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March 12, 2010