3 min read

On three statistical realms

Peter Petocz and Anna Reid(2010) grouped three levels of students’ conceptions of statistics:

  • Level I:   focus on techniques
  • Level II:  focus on using data
  • Level III: focus on meaning

I found the three conceptions could be easily interpreted as the three kinds of state of learning and using statistics based on my personal experience:

  • State I: focus on techniques—As a student of Economics and (then) Software Engineering, I needed some statistics techniques to support my study on data mining and machine learning. So I invested a lot on some fancy skills such as logistic regression, decision tree,  neural network and even support vector machine in graduate school and SAS R&D(as an intern). In most time, I just thrown data to the models and checked their functionality and feasibility(Wula-IT-WORKS! or Oops-crash-again). When looking back, I’d just have to say these techniques were toys played in labs.
  • State II:  focus on using data—Now I worked as a SAS programmer(also titled as statistical analyst) in pharma. All data are not just the rows and columns in the tables. They are SUBJECTS! Statistical techniques are used carefully to display and interpret the story of real world. Why the denominator is 999 while 1000 subjects were recruited in this trial? Because subject 001-127, male, 23 months of age,  discontinued due to his father’s wish and opinion!
  • State III: focus on meaning—Peter Petocz and Anna Reid concluded that, regarding the MEANING conception of statistics, “statistics is an inclusive tool used to make sense of the world and develop personal meanings.” The last state of any realms ideal, is always sounded like philosophy or religion. That may be a life in a statistical way or style(If got it, I would change my blog’s title as From a Statistical Point of View^).

—————-some notes on non-statistics—————————-

  1. three kinds of state of Chan

    • just mountain
    • isn’t mountain
    • still mountain
  2. three realm ideal of Wang Guowei

    • heaven is integrated with man:

Last night the west wind shriveled the green-clad trees,

Alone I climb the high tower

To gaze my fill along the road to the horizon.

  • knowledge is integrated with practice

My clothes grow daily more loose, yet care I not.

For you am I thus wasting away in sorrow and pain.

  • feeling is integrated with scenery

I sought her in the crowd a hundred, a thousand times.

Suddenly with a turn of the head [I saw her],

That one there where the lamplight was fading.


Peter Petocz and Anna Reid. On Becoming a Statistician—A Qualitative View. International Statistical Review(2010), 78,2,271

WANG Guowei. Ren jian ci hua. translated by Adele Austin Rickett.