Science without stats
Would any of us argue that it is important for many of the experimental scientists to have a basic training in statistics? I admit, I haven’t done much statistics myself, but if I was working in horticulture or biomedicine, I think it would be a no brainer that management of data would require a rudimentary understanding of statistics. I have been fortunate to have learnt from my colleagues the utility and applicability of statistics, and I have recently had the pleasure of watching Hans Rosling documentaries promoting the significance of statistics in our everyday lives. From this reflection, I am convinced that I am unqualified to carry out an experiment of any kind!
So why is it that at my university, that many of the future scientists will know little statistics beyond what I know?
Below is a list of our science majors. I have separated the units which require statistics when chosen as a first major. I’ve also removed the Maths and Stats, Physics and Engineering Sciences major, as they do statistics in the mathematics unit MATH1002. I am just concentrating on “applied statistics”.
- Agricultural Science
- Applied Computing*
- Biochemistry and Molecular Biology*
- Conservation Biology
- Environmental Science
- Marine Science
- Natural Resource Management
- Quantitative Methods*
Do not require statistics
- Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing
- Anatomy and Human Biology
- Biomedical Science
- Computer Science
- Exercise and Health
- Microbiology and Immunology
- Neuropsychology and Cognitive Science
- Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
- Population Health
- Science Communication
- Sport Science
There are two other issues which I haven’t discussed because they might need more background than what I write here, but they are:
- A student who takes a major as a “second major”, does not need to take its “complementary units”, and so does not need to take statistics at all! So for example, a student might take a major in Commerce and a second major in Agricultural Science, will go on to be an Ag Scientist, but not know any statistics! (By the way, what determines a first and second major is simply an ordering the student chooses).
- Only four of the majors above (Applied Computing, Quantitative Methods, Biochemisty and Molecular Biology, Genetics) are required to take OUR statistics unit. The remainder take the unit offered by the School of Agricultural and Resource Economics, which by all accounts, has less statistics covered in it.