PSCI 215
The Use and Abuse of Statistics in Politics Spring 2015
Division II Quantative/Formal Reasoning
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Class Details

Mark Twain popularized an old adage that suggests that statistics can be categorized as a type of lie. Statistics is the study of data collection, assessment, interpretation and presentation. Statistics can be used to inform the public and policy makers about citizens’ and denizens’ beliefs, preferences, and behaviors. Statistics can and have also been used to bolster weak arguments, to develop counterproductive public policies, and to provide rationale for the benign neglect of citizens on the margins of society. The ultimate goal of this course is to assist students to become aware of inaccurate representations of data. We will begin the course by exploring basic concepts like the meaning of statistically significant, causation versus correlation, question order and wording, and race of interviewer effects. Then we will examine real examples of how good and bad science, alike, has real implications for society.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 19
Expected: 10
Class#: 3592
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: class participation, two or three short papers, final examination or presentation
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: Political Science majors, first year students and sophomores
Distributions: Division II Quantative/Formal Reasoning
Attributes: PSCI American Politics Courses

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