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Prologue: A letter to my students

  • Page ID
    195769
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    Dear Students:

    I get it.

    Please believe me when I say that I completely understand, from firsthand experience, that statistics is rough. I was forced to take an introductory statistics course as part of my education, and I went in to it with dread. To be honest, for that first semester, I hated statistics. I was fortunate enough to have a wonderful professor who was knowledgeable and passionate about the subject. Nevertheless, I didn’t understand what was going on, why I was required to take the course, or why any of it mattered to my major or my life.

    Now, almost ten years later, I am deeply in love with statistics. Once I understood the logic behind statistics (and I promise, it is there, even if you don’t see it at first), everything became crystal clear. More importantly, it enabled me to use that same logic not on numerical data but in my everyday life.

    We are constantly bombarded by information, and finding a way to filter that information in an objective way is crucial to surviving this onslaught with your sanity intact. This is what statistics, and logic we use in it, enables us to do. Through the lens of statistics, we learn to find the signal hidden in the noise when it is there and to know when an apparent trend or pattern is really just randomness.

    I understand that this is a foreign language to most people, and it was for me as well. I also understand that it can quickly become esoteric, complicated, and overwhelming. I encourage you to persist. Eventually, a lightbulb will turn on, and your life will be illuminated in a way it never has before.

    I say all this to communicate to you that I am on your side. I have been in your seat, and I have agonized over these same concepts. Everything in this text has been put together in a way to convey not just formulae for manipulating numbers but to make connections across different chapters, topics, and methods, to demonstrate that it is all useful and important.

    So I say again: I get it. I am on your side, and together, we will learn to do some amazing things.

    Signature of Garett Foster

    Garett C. Foster, Ph.D

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