Swimming vs. Wading in the Shallow End

At the beach you have two types of people: the waders and the swimmers. We are not even talking about the people that never touch the water. I am talking about the ones that choose to enjoy the water at the beach. So anyway, you have people who love the water enough to get their feet wet. These people can appreciate the idea of the water. It’s wet…it’s refreshing…but they are not trying to leave the shoreline. Maybe they don’t know how to swim. It’s even possible they have a fear of water. Whatever the case might be, these people are waders. Then you have a class of people who are swimmers. They jump right in the water because they KNOW it. They know how to control it. They swam before and they can tell you everything about what it’s like to be immersed in it. Swimmers make themselves completely vulnerable to the elements. Because they want to APPRECIATE it thoroughly.

Now what the heck does this have to do with statistics? When you learn a new statistical programming software, such as, STATA it has a user-friendly interface. And it is very tempting to stay within the boundaries of that interface and just point and click your way through the session. HOWEVER, there will come a time when those buttons are not very helpful. You may have to perform a hybrid analysis which requires some independent thought. It would beneficial if you learned the ‘language’ of your software. Study it’s limitations. Understand how it processes data. Manually try to recreate the syntax on your own without the help of the pretty buttons at the top. Or don’t. It all depends on your role within the organization. If you are supposed to be a wader…then you can familiarize yourself with the tabs at the top of the interface. But if you are supposed to be a swimmer…then you need to thoroughly immerse yourself in the programming syntax. Now I am writing a book on STATA, another statistical programming language. The book should be out by Halloween (boo!) Waders and swimmers are welcome to get a copy! I will announce it’s release when ready.

-Moore to Follow Amy

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