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Introduction to statistics

Headings on this page :

1. Useful sources of statistical information
     - eg links to websites  , organisations, reports, books

2. Background information

  • Compiling statistics - back-of-the-envelope calculations (BOTE) and guesstimates
  • Presenting statistics
    • using tables, pie charts and histograms
    • presentation of information in general

This page is an introduction to statistics - with background information.

For statistics (facts and figures) on clothing collections, charity shops, recycling etc
see the Statistics page.

1. Useful sources of statistical information - other websites etc

2. Background information

Compiling statistics

Pie chart (our thanks to wikimedia.org)
A coloured, exploded 3D pie chart

You can compile statistics two ways :

  1. by using sophisticated mathematics - like probability, correlation, normal distributions, regression, variance, t-tests . . .
  2. by using basic arithmetic - addition, subtraction, multiplication and division

Using the latter (just basic arithmetic), you can devise reliable and revealing statistics (estimates) - so long as it's done carefully and you use common sense.

Back-of-the-envelope calculations and guesstimates

A simple technique is "back-of-the-envelope calculation" (=BOTE) - see the Wikipedia page on Back-of-the-envelope calculation  
The eminent scientist (physicist) Enrico Fermi used this method a lot.

See also the Wikipedia page on guesstimates: Guesstimate  

Presenting statistics

Piecharts and histograms (Wikimedia - public domain)
Pie charts and histograms

You can display figures as a list, but often it's better to do it as a table (=rows and columns).

Also, it helps if they're presented 'visually' - using graphics, eg pie charts or histograms - "a picture is worth a thousand words".  See :

Some of these links above also deal with the issue of presentation of information in general - one of our pet interests (we should get out more).  In turn, these topics lead on to the issue of plain English - and effective communication.  See our Plain English page.  Also please see our page on Style (written English and presentation).