I often compare introduction to statistics course to a kid tap dance recital. because you are led to believe everything is choreographed and perfect. Statistics is not perfection. Half the time, you are estimating an answer, the other half you are trying to come up with your best guess. One big misconception, is that statisticians use those z tables in real life. We do not use the Z tables. As a matter fact, we typically stick to the T distribution for all of our calculations (please see my blog on the true population). The Student- T distribution is for cases where you don’t have all the members from your true population. More truth is the following: you rarely calculate answers by hand in real life. Why do teachers require people to learn the Z-tables? Because we want you to make the connection between likelihood and the values in your sample. We also want you to have a point of reference (mentioned in another previous blog). It’s like learning the cords on a guitar, you need to understand the fundamentals before you start generating your own ‘music’- statistics.
-Moore to follow-Amy