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“Show me the data!” This is coin of the realm in science, medicine, business, education, journalism, and countless other fields. Of course, it’s more complicated than that, because raw data without interpretation is useless. What they mean is “Show me the statistics”—well-founded, persuasive distillations of data that support a claim under discussion.
The ability of statistics to extract insights from a random collection of facts is one of the most astonishing and useful feats of applied mathematics. That power is all the more accessible today through the statistical programming language R, a free, open-source computer language with millions of users worldwide—everyone from students and nonprofessionals to managers and researchers at the forefront of their disciplines.
In this era of big data, with a solid understanding of statistics and the tools for interpreting data, you don’t have to trust someone else’s analysis of medical treatments, financial returns, crop yields, voting trends, home prices, or any other interpretation of data. You can do it yourself.
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