There are many functions of statistics in different walks of life. Today, we will explore the nature of statistics – whether it is a science or art? We will also look at the scope and classification of statistics.
Nature of Statistics – Science
What is the nature of statistics? Is it a science or an art? This is a debatable topic. Let’s look at both.
Science, by definition, is a systematic body of knowledge which studies the cause and effect relationship and endeavors to find out generalization. In simpler terms, it explains the facts. Further, the primary features of science are:
- It is a systematic study of any subject
- It takes a fact and tries to establish the relationship between cause and effect
- Also, the laws of science are universal in nature
If we take the various statistical methods in consideration, we can define statistics as a science in which we study:
- Numerous methods of collecting, editing, classifying, tabulating and presenting facts using graphs and diagrams
- Several ways of condensing data regarding various social, political, and economic problems
This is done to establish a relationship between various facts. Also, it helps in analyzing and interpreting problems and forecast them too.
However, unlike the pure sciences like physics, chemistry, etc., statistics is not an exact science. We can call it a science of scientific methods. Statistics help other sciences to derive their own laws.
Further, statistical knowledge is not for its own sake but for the sake of other knowledge. Tippet defines statistics as, “A science, where the statistical method is a part of the general scientific methods and based on the same fundamental ideas and processes.”
Browse more Topics under Descriptive Statistics
- Definition and Characteristics of Statistics
- Stages of Statistical Enquiry
- Importance and Functions of Statistics
- Application of Statistics
- Law of Statistics and Distrust of Statistics
- Meaning and Types of Data
- Methods of Collecting Data
- Sample Investigation
- Classification of Data
- Tabulation of Data
- Frequency Distribution of Data
- Diagrammatic Presentation of Data
- Graphic Presentation of Data
- Measures of Central Tendency
- Mean Median Mode
- Measures of Dispersion
- Standard Deviation
- Variance Analysis
Nature of Statistics – Art
If Science is knowledge, Art is action or the actual application of science. While Science teaches us to know, Art teaches us to do. Further, Art has the following characteristics:
- It is a group of actions which solve a problem
- It does not describe the facts but examines the merits and demerits and suggests ways to achieve the objective
Based on these characteristics, we can define statistics as an art of applying the science of scientific methods. As an art, statistics offer a better understanding and solution to problems in real life as it offers quantitative information.
While there are several statistical methods, the successful application of the methods is dependent on the statistician’s degree of skill and experience.
According to Tippet, “Statistic is both a science and an art. It is a science in that its methods are basically systematic and have general application and art in that their successful application depends, to a considerable degree, on the skill and special experience of the statistician, and on his knowledge of the field of application.”
Scope of Statistics
Statistics has an extremely wide scope. There is hardly any sphere of human activity where statistics do not show. Be it social sciences or management, all disciplines use statistics in some form. Broadly speaking, the scope of statistics is confined to two main aspects:
- The Divisions or Classification of Statistics
- The Application of Statistics
Let’s look at the classification of statistics next. We will talk about its applications in our next article.
Division or Classification of Statistics
Statistics is broadly classified into a few major categories as given below:
Descriptive statistics is all about numerical data. This data represents the observations which are obtained either through counting or some other measurement process.
The data can define an entire population or universe. Also, a sampling procedure helps in deriving the data. In some cases, the data represents the raw material of any subsequent statistical processing and have the potential to answer specific questions or solve a specific problem itself.
Descriptive statistics also includes techniques like the collection and tabulation of data, averages or measures of the central tendency, dispersion, index number, skewness, etc. These techniques help in the summarization and description of the primary features of the data. Further, it pays a lot of attention to the characteristics of data which a user might otherwise overlook due to its sheer size.
Applied Statistics concerns itself with the application of statistical methods and techniques to specific problems in real life. Some such techniques are sample surveys, quantitative analysis for business decisions, quality control, etc.
To give you an example, if a business wants to forecast the demand of a particular product in the market, then the statistician uses methods like extrapolation or least square. This is applied statistics.
Statistics has some methods and techniques for drawing conclusions and statistical inferences about certain parameters of the population based on the estimates from the sample.
This is inferential statistics. Similarly, the hypothesis regarding the characteristics of the sample is tested based on the population’s parameters.
There are numerous tests for this purpose. These tests lay down the possibility of being true in individual cases. Further, the conclusions or statistical inferences are not just guesses. Logical thought and fundamental theories of science and mathematics back these conclusions.
Q1. What is the nature of statistics – science or art?
Answer: Statistics is both science and art. Statistical methods are systematic and have a general application which makes it a science. Further, the successful application of these methods requires skills and experience of using the statistical tools. These aspects make it an art.