a model of statistics
Statistics is a distinct beast from the other STEM subjects. Some people think of it as a sort of arithmetic.
When describing claims using numbers, individuals frequently use the term statistics. For example, if 70 out of 100 students received a B on an English examination, that would be a statistic. As would the fictitious claim that “90% of toddlers adore tuna.” However, statistics is much more than a collection of factoids.
Statistics is a distinct beast from the other STEM subjects. Some people think of it as a sort of arithmetic. While statistics are similar to math, others contend that it is too different from math disciplines to be a subfield of math.
For researchers, data is all around us. They can collect data from penguin excrement and the weather outdoors. It hides in the movement of planets and speaks with teenagers about why they vape. However, these findings are insufficient to propel researchers further. Scientists must consider how they will arrange their investigations to extract relevant information from these data.
It has aided paleontologists in determining whether a fossil belonged to a male or female dinosaur. Statistics have assisted researchers in demonstrating that medications like the COVID-19 vaccination are safe and productive.
Statisticians: What They Do
Statistical researchers are referred to as statisticians. They are looking for patterns in data. Statisticians can use data from a few bottlenose dolphins to draw inferences for other dolphins of the same species. Alternatively, they might seek long-term links between carbon dioxide emissions and fossil-fuel consumption. They may utilize such linkages to predict how future CO2 levels will alter whether the usage of fossil fuels increases, decreases, or remains constant.
“I have abilities that marine scientists require, and those skills are statistics,” Leslie New explains. She works at Washington State University in Vancouver as a statistical ecologist. New uses statistics to researching marine animals like whales and dolphins.
She used statistics to investigate the connections between disturbances and marine-mammal populations. These might be noises like a ship. They might also be caused by nature, such as increasing predators or a lack of food.
One of the most important statistical tools, State-space modeling, is a new application. It “sounds nice,” she says, and “the details can get very, very persnickety.” But there is one fundamental concept at the heart of it. “There are things we’re interested in that we can’t see. “However, we can measure sections of them,” she continues. When researchers can’t see the animal in issue, this allows them to observe its behavior.
New provided an example using eagles. Scientists are unable to track a golden eagle as it migrates from Alaska to Texas. As a result, data on how frequently the bird pauses to rest, forage, and feed appears to be a mystery. Trackers, on the other hand, can be attached to the bird by researchers. The researchers will be able to detect how quickly the eagle is traveling thanks to these sensors. New may combine the data on the bird’s speed and what researchers currently know about eagle behaviors to estimate how frequently they could be eating, resting, and foraging using state-space modeling.
Dolphins and eagles are pretty distinct animals. However, when seen statistically, they are nearly identical, according to New. “The statistics that we use beneath them to analyze the consequences of human activity on those species are very, very similar.”
However, statisticians are not just valuable for biology. They can work in forensics, social science, public health, sports analytics, and various other fields.