week 1 discussion 1 17

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Discussion: The Logic of Inference: The Science of Uncertainty

All models are wrong. Some models are useful.

—George E. P. Box (1919–2013)

Statistician

Describing and explaining social phenomena is a complex task. Box’s quote speaks to the point that it is a near impossible undertaking to fully explain such systems—physical or social—using a set of models. Yet even though these models contain some error, the models nevertheless assist with illuminating how the world works and advancing social change.

The competent quantitative researcher understands the balance between making statements related to theoretical understanding of relationships and recognizing that our social systems are of such complexity that we will always have some error. The key, for the rigorous researcher, is recognizing and mitigating the error as much as possible.

As a graduate student and consumer of research, you must recognize the error that might be present within your research and the research of others.

To prepare for this Discussion:

  • Use the Walden Library Course Guide and Assignment Help found in this week’s Learning Resources to search for and select a quantitative article that interests you and that has social change implications.
  • As you read the article, reflect on George Box’s quote in the introduction for this Discussion.
  • For additional support, review the Skill Builder: Independent and Dependent Variables, which you can find by navigating back to your Blackboard Course Home Page. From there, locate the Skill Builder link in the left navigation pane.

By Day 3

Post a very brief description (1–3 sentences) of the article you found and address the following:

  1. Describe how you think the research in the article is useful (e.g., what population is it helping? What problem is it solving?).
  2. Using Y=f(X) +E notation, identify the independent and dependent variables.
  3. How might the research models presented be wrong? What types of error might be present in the reported research?

Be sure to support your Main Post and Response Post with reference to the week’s Learning Resources and other scholarly evidence in APA Style.

Learning Resources

Required Readings

Frankfort-Nachmias, C., & Leon-Guerrero, A. (2018).
Social statistics for a diverse society (8th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

  • Chapter 1, “The What and the Why of Statistics” (pp. 1–21)

Wagner, W. E. (2016).
Using IBM® SPSS® statistics for research methods and social science statistics (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

  • Chapter 1, “Overview”

Dietz, T., & Kalof, L. (2009). Introduction to social statistics: The logic of statistical reasoning. West Sussex, United Kingdom: Wiley-Blackwell.
Introduction to Social Statistics: The Logic of Statistical Reasoning, 1st Edition by Dietz, T.; Kalof, L. Copyright 2009 by John Wiley & Sons – Books. Reprinted by permission of John Wiley & Sons – Books via the Copyright Clearance Center.

  • Chapter 1, “An Introduction to Quantitative Analysis” (pp. 1–31)

Dietz, T., & Kalof, L. (2009). Introduction to social statistics: The logic of statistical reasoning. West Sussex, United Kingdom: Wiley-Blackwell.
Introduction to Social Statistics: The Logic of Statistical Reasoning, 1st Edition by Dietz, T.; Kalof, L. Copyright 2009 by John Wiley & Sons – Books. Reprinted by permission of John Wiley & Sons – Books via the Copyright Clearance Center.

  • Chapter 2, “Some Basic Concepts” (pp. 33–63)

Introduction to Social Statistics: The Logic of Statistical Reasoning, 1st Edition by Dietz, T.; Kalof, L. Copyright 2009 by John Wiley & Sons – Books. Reprinted by permission of John Wiley & Sons – Books via the Copyright Clearance Center.


Walden University Library. (n.d.). Course Guide and Assignment Help for RSCH 8210. Retrieved from http://academicguides.waldenu.edu/rsch8210
For help with this week’s research, see this Course Guide and related weekly assignment resources.

Use this SPSS Resource page to guide you as you as you download, install and register your SPSS software.

Note: You will use this software throughout this course to perform various statistical calculations.

Datasets


Walden’s SPSS website: http://academicguides.waldenu.edu/SPSS

Document: Data Set 2014 General Social Survey (dataset file)
Use this dataset to complete this week’s Discussion.
Note: You will need the SPSS software to open this dataset.


Document: Data Set Afrobarometer (dataset file)
Use this dataset to complete this week’s Assignment.
Note: You will need the SPSS software to open this dataset.


Document: High School Longitudinal Study 2009 Dataset (dataset file)
Use this dataset to complete this week’s Assignment.
Note: You will need the SPSS software to open this dataset.

Required Media


Milgram, A. (2013). Why smart statistics are the key to fighting crime [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/anne_milgram_why_smart_statistics_are_the_key_to_fighting_crime
Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 12 minutes.
In this media program, Anne Milgram discusses how smart statistics are used to fight crime. Focus on the statement “all models are wrong, but some are useful.”


Price, M. (2015). Statistician promotes social justice and human rights [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orW01w8a4zY
Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 2 minutes.
In this media program, statistician Megan Price explains how she uses statistics to advance social justice issues and protect human rights.

Laureate Education (Producer). (2016e).
Introduction and demonstration of SPSS [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 4 minutes.

In this media program, Dr. Matt Jones introduces the software used for quantitative analysis, SPSS, and demonstrates its use.

Optional Resources

  • Skill Builder: Independent and Dependent Variables
  • Skill Builder: Unit of Analysis
  • Skill Builder: Levels of Measurement

To access these Skill Builders, navigate back to your Blackboard Course Home page, and locate “Skill Builders” in the left navigation pane. From there, click on the relevant Skill Builder link for this week.

You are encouraged to click through these and all Skill Builders to gain additional practice with these concepts. Doing so will bolster your knowledge of the concepts you’re learning this week and throughout the course.

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