Statistics in Schools – Why Statistics?

[MUSIC] Alright, why statistics? Statistics: the practice
of science of collecting and analyzing numerical
data in large quantities. Why study statistics at all? Why do we have a federal
statistical system? Why a Census Bureau? What, what good is statistics? [HMMM] To answer this question, let’s
first talk about something else. Why a microscope? [BOING] Well, a microscope is used
for studying things that are – as the name may imply
– microscopic. Microscopic: so small or
fine as to be invisible or indistinguishable without
the use of a microscope. You need to look at something
that’s really, really tiny, too small for your eye to see. And you blow it up to
a screen about yea big. This turns out to be
really, really handy. If you want to study cells,
for example, like bacteria. You want to understand
food poisoning? You want to understand disease? You want to understand
how viruses spread? You’ve got to actually be able
to look at them, to see them. If you can understand how big
they are, how small they are, what their shapes are,
what their form is; if you can get the form
you can get the function and you can get some
understanding. You want to build a microchip,
you need a microscope. [TRUMPETING SUCCESS] Now, that means that a
microscope is really, really useful for looking at
things that are too small. Now, let’s consider
the kinds of questions that we answer with statistics. We talk about things like the
population of the United States. The population of
the United States. In 2010, there were 308 million
people in the United States. You can’t possibly
know everyone. You can’t talk to, you
can’t, you as a person, you don’t have enough
time in your life to sit down with everybody
and learn their story. But, you know, every 10 years
or so, we at the Census Bureau, ask a few questions of
everybody: age, sex, birth, where you live. These are important
things to know. And with just those few
questions we can learn an enormous amount. You want to know where
the hospitals go? You need to know what cities
have a large aging population. You want to know
where the schools go? You need to know
where the cities and what neighborhoods have
a lot of really young people. These kinds of questions,
there’s all kinds of things: birth rates, death rates. Want to understand
the labor force, that’s a statistical question. You understand employment. You want to understand earnings. You understand national
earnings. You want to understand
these questions. Accidents rates,
all kinds of things that we publish statistics on. That we measure statistics. They’re all things that are
too big to see at one time, they’re too big for
your eye to see. 308 million people,
all of different ages, all different sexes; we’ve
got accidents happening spread out across the country of literally millions
of square miles. It’s too big to take in. But ah ha! [TRUMPETING SUCCESS] A federal statistical system, statistics we can take
a slice of that country. [DELICIOUS!] We can take a slice of the
United States of America, and we can shrink it down
to a screen about yea big. You know I’ve got a
bunch of them back here. When you can take a big thing
and shrink it down small enough to study, to understand, or at
least part of it, that’s useful. That’s statistics. So you want to understand that
something that’s too small like a cell or a microchip,
you need to blow it up you use a microscope. Statistics is a macroscope. That’s why statistics. [MUSIC]