Friday, 12 June 2009

When Summary Measures Aren't Enough

Another great Rafe Donahue post - HERE - this is a simple but well explained page that shows how powerful it is to show all of the data (what he calls the data atoms).

The figure shows how a plot can be constructed that shows all of the 'data atoms', together with summary measures of the distributions of the data.

As Donahue puts it;

"Analysis, from the Greek, implies breaking things down into component parts so as to understand the whole. Its opposite is synthesis, bringing together the parts to construct the whole. If we are going to do data analysis, then we must make attempts to break the data down to their component parts, their atoms. Computing summary measures like means and medians and percentiles and standard deviations and even F and chi-square and t statistics and P values, is not analysis; it is synthesis! And, worse than playing games with word meaning, data synthesis often obscures understanding the data. "


[Figure Copyright Rafe Donahue]


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