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Basic Concepts of Statistics

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Statistics is a field that studies issues of data collection, measurement and analysis of statistical data (quantitative and qualitative data study of various social phenomena in numerical form). In 1746, Gottfried Achenwall laid the foundation for the development of statistics as a science and discipline. Since that time, statistical analysis methods have considerably evolved. Unfortunately, there is a great number of cases when statistics has been used inappropriately intentionally or with purpose.

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Incorrect use of statistics, the distortion of statistical data, and the use of statistics with the aim to deceive is a widespread phenomenon. In “How to Lie with Statistics,” Darrell Huff sets out a number of ideas about the use and misuse of statistical data. Arithmetic mean is a common case of improper use of statistical analysis methods. Many people, intentionally or not, forget that deviation in normal distribution makes such parameter as the arithmetic average unsuitable for use. Such dirty tricks are usually used by unscrupulous officials in determining average earnings levels. Unfortunately, outside observer may not notice incorrect application of mathematical statistics in some areas of economy. Often, the manipulation of statistical data takes place during public opinion polls. Unscrupulous sociologists use the wrong criteria of statistical sampling after ascertaining the views of a narrow segment of society to give the results as if it is a public opinion. These facts may also occur due to insufficient knowledge of statistics. Distortion of statistical data in medicine occurs during epidemics; to get medical help, frightened person intentionally distorts personal data or simulates. Such cases may be widespread and may cause serious epidemiologic situation.

Statistics as a science can help to properly obtain and analyze reliable data. Distortion of statistics or misuse of statistical analysis can lead to serious consequences. Proper use of this science may improve the quality of life in modern society. Therefore, development statistics and adherence to its laws and required procedures is an important task of the present day society.

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