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Re: st: Intro social science stats book

From   Mike Lacy <>
Subject   Re: st: Intro social science stats book
Date   Sat, 01 Jul 2006 09:39:51 -0600

Date: Fri, 30 Jun 2006 10:55:45 -0700 (PDT)
From: M Hollis <>
Subject: st: Intro social science stats book

This fall I'll be teaching an intro stats course to
undergraduates in sociology and other social sciences.
 I'm beginning to search around for the elusive
perfect textbook and I'm wondering if folks have
suggestions.  I'm looking for a book that emphasizes
intuition about statistics and their proper use rather
than a mathematically-oriented one that focuses on
deriving the formulas.
Having taught this class since 1983, I can report the disappointing observation that the available books seem to have become worse and worse over time---- or perhaps I have become more and more demanding :-} I think the class of the market here is Agresti and Finlay's book, but it's probably a bit too hard for undergraduates in the social sciences at most schools. Two very popular books I would not recommend are Healey's Statistics: A Tool for Social Research (too much emphasis on formulae and computation, not very conceptual, poor homework problems), and Levin and Fox's Elementary Statistics (Hall of Shame quote from 10th ed., p. 232: "Put simply, P is the exact probability that the null hypothesis is true in light of the sample data....) This fall, I'm trying Nachmias-Frankfort and Leon-Guerrero's Statistics for a Diverse Society which, despite the rather touch-feely title, appears to have some real virtues, e.g., a focus on understanding relationships as opposed to testing uninteresting hypotheses. It postpones sampling distributions and hypo. testing to the end of the book, which I am convinced is the right way to do things.

 In my ideal world, the book
would provide Stata examples, but that seems to be a
rare occurance. Why do so many books provide SPSS
I think that Rich Williams' answer of *why* is right on target, but I wouldn't worry about this too much. I think there are pedagogical reasons not to bother with statistical packages in the introductory class, at least not in the context of a 3-credit course. I have even seen at least one research article supporting this view, although I wouldn't say I'm totally convinced.


Mike Lacy
Fort Collins CO USA
(970) 491-6721 office

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