Prior to being a Psychology undergraduate, I was blissfully unaware of the statistical voyage that I would be embarking upon in my years as a student here at Bangor University. My academic background is hardly that of a mathematician, in fact, I’m pretty sure that I have done everything in my will to avoid anything that involved or even sounded like maths. So, as you can imagine, my arrival here at Bangor was quite intimidating as statistics were thrust upon us all from day one. As the weeks went by statistics soon became less intimidating and the tightening sensation in the pit of my stomach soon became fainter.
As I progressed though my first semester I was actually finding alternate uses for skills I had learnt in my statistics lectures, I was becoming more adept with statistics and wanted to apply the skills I had learnt in my lectures to the world around me; I was enjoying my lectures on probability in particular. I found many ways of applying my knowledge, with my favourite example being roulette; a game of chance and probability. I am not encouraging those reading this blog to start gambling nor am I condoning it, but, in the short time that I experimented with playing it I managed to win a nice amount of money. I firmly believe that the success I attained was aided by the fact that I had acquired a real understanding of probability, and I attribute this level of understanding to my statistics module; although this example is slightly controversial it is still valid as it is a real world application of statistics.
Whether we like it or not we are faced with statistics as a daily occurrence, whilst watching or listening to the news we are more often than not presented with facts and figures usually regarding ominous issues such as increasing numbers of teenage pregnancies, unemployment and crime rate etc. (http://www.statistics.gov.uk/hub/index.html)
Before these statistics can be presented to the general public it is somebody behind the scenes’ job to take large quantities of data; organize it, summarize it and interpret it; a process I was oblivious to prior to my enrolment on this course. It is highly beneficial, if not essential, to have a strong understanding of statistics in most jobs. Statistics are usually informative and time-saving, they condense large quantities of information into a few simple figures; an invaluable attribute in any workplace.
I will leave you with one last example illustrating why a strong understanding of statistics is beneficial, the example I have chosen is regarding ‘payday loans’.
‘Payday loans let you borrow from £50 to £1,000 for a few days or up to a month until you get paid the following month. Payday loan companies typically charge up to £30 for every £100 cash loan you borrow for up to 31 days. This may sound reasonable on the face of it, but it equates to an APR (annual percentage rate) of a whopping 2,255%.’ (http://www.uswitch.com/loans/payday-loans/)
If having a strong understanding of statistics can prevent me or anyone else from ending up in a situation where I am paying 2,255% APR then it is highly beneficial.
If you would like a closer look at the small print on a pay day company’s website please follow these links, it’s actually very interesting.