Statistics is NOT Math

Yes. Even though this website is called Math Bootcamps Yes. Even though just about every high school and college gives its statistics courses a “MATH” designation. Yes. Even though it uses a ton of math.

Statistics is not just a math class.

I start every stats class I teach with this statement but it doesn’t really sink in until we get started. Statistics is all about understanding data – numbers with context and meaning. A computer can do all of the calculations and all of the numerical work with finding a mean, a standard deviation, and even a confidence interval (all things we do in statistics). But, only a person can tell you if the mean really describes the data set or what the confidence interval is actually telling us.

So, statistics is about taking the information we get from mathematics and interpreting it. You may look at the math behind the information, but only to get a better idea of how to make a decision. Instead of circling 5 as your answer and moving on, you need to understand what that five is telling you!

Consider this situation:

A salesman tells you that his new system will reduce the time customers wait in line by 15 minutes (woah!). Before you pay the $5,000 for this system, you decide to try it out for a few days on random customers (maybe one line uses the new system) and you notice a difference. For the 45 that used the line with the new system the average wait time was reduced by 17 minutes! Even better than expected! Should you buy the new system?

Now I have talked before about how math may not be used by everyone everyday but it kinda is. But this – this is one of those things that absolutely could come up in day to day life for anyone! We are confronted with data and need to make decisions more often than you may even realize.

While we may use math tools to answer this, in the end we have several other things that are not mathematical that need to be taken into consideration to make the decision. Again, stats may use math but it is certainly not just math – its describing and making decisions using data. How awesome is that? You will make actual decisions using statistics. Sometimes, there aren’t even right or wrong answers – just your viewpoint based on the data! Even cooler!

In fact, with the availability of data becoming ridiculous (due to technology advances), it is becoming one of those things that you simply must know. Those who can understand stats will be some of the most useful people in any business. (or anywhere where decisions are made really)