Opinion

Purpose of this Assignment: This assignment highlights important decisions that I made while designing this course. For example, I consciously introduced a plethora of methods to calculate and solve computationally intensive problems (Excel, Online Calculator etc.); why do you think I chose to do that?

This is also an opportunity to provide feedback on how I can encourage you to focus on what matters in this course: understanding and comprehension rather than rote memorization and calculation.

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Finally, this assignment is optional. I do not want to force you to do work for which you see no value, you will not be penalized if you choose not to do this assignment.  As such, it will be graded as a 2 or a 0. If you are willing to commit the time and effort to complete this assignment to the best of your capacities and if you can demonstrate that you watched, read and understood the material, then you will be awarded 2 bonus points on your final grade in this class

Assignment:
Step 1: Read the article associated with this assignment in D2L. The article is titled “Cargo-cult Statistics and scientific crisis”.

Step 2: Summarize the article in a Word document with a header containing your name, your instructor name, the date of completion and an appropriate title. I will not give an appropriate length for your document. At a minimum, your summary should address:

  • What problem do they highlight? What is the cause of this problem?
  • Define cargo-cult statistics and discuss how the cargo-cult analogy helps explain the common causes of poor statistical analysis.
  • How has education and statistical software made the problem worse?

Step 3: In your Word document, answer these questions:

  • Stark and Saltelli refer to a misuse of p-values in the article. How did I explain p-values in the course? Did I promote this misuse of p-values? Review midterm 2 and find the questions where I tried to prevent students from misusing statistical methods/results/concepts. Provide examples and explain why it applies.
  • I have tried to allow you to use some tools to make computation easier in this class. Why would I have done that if these tools can make the problem worse? Can you find a justification for using these tools if the focus should be more on comprehension than on rote computation?
  • How has reading this article changed your understanding of the purpose of BUS 230? How might your new knowledge be reflected in the way that you study/approach the course material?
  • Occasionally, a student will ask me to give them a “trick”, a way to spot what equation to use in a situation. Usually, I refuse to do that. Can you explain this behavior based on the article you just read?

Step 4: Watch this video where Matt Parker argues against the use of Benford’s Law to detect voter Fraud in the US.

Step 5: In your Word document, summarize Matt Parker’s video. Your summary should include:

  • A brief summary of Benford’s Law.
  • A discussion of why Benford’s Law was used in this case. Should it be used in this case? Why?
  • A discussion of the use of the last 2 digits of each candidate’s vote to make claims of election fraud (How would we expect these trailing digits to be distributed?).
  • Explain one of the many examples given of how statistics were used to identify potential Why is the word potential in italic (Do results that differ from the expected result always indicative of foul play)?

Step 6: Explain how the video is related to the article from Step 1 and the questions from Step 3.

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