Thanks to my moderate knowledge of statistics, I know that I have a lot more to learn in the field and should never make assumptions about data or analyses (even my own).
Because of this I share a grievance with Zed Shaw who says that “programmers need to learn statistics or I will kill them all”. Required reading and advice not just for programmers, but for everyone who looks at data, creates models, or even reads a newspaper.
I have a major pet peeve that I need to confess. I go insane when I hear programmers talking about statistics like they know shit when its clearly obvious they do not. I’ve been studying it for years and years and still don’t think I know anything. This article is my call for all programmers to finally learn enough about statistics to at least know they don’t know shit. I have no idea why, but their confidence in their lacking knowledge is only surpassed by their lack of confidence in their personal appearance.
My recommendation? Read this article to realise that you know nothing, and then pick up a copy of John Allen Paulos’ Innumeracy and Darrell Huff’s How to Lie with Statistics in order to realise that you know even less than you thought (but a hell of a lot more than the average person).