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>>> Steve Borgatti <[log in to unmask]> 10/18/2005 10:05:05 AM >>> wrote
<<<<<
I realize that in asking whether it is "allowed", you are just using
shorthand. But it gives me an opportunity to get something off my
chest. I
hate a certain religious (and simultaneously postmodernist)
perspective
toward statistics which says that it consists of a bunch of arbitrary
rules
that must be memorized (but not understood) in order to be part of the
congregation. Experts become high priests who "let you" (or don't) do
things
with your data. The focus on the social functions of statistical
knowledge
obscures and undermines the idea that there is actually a logic to
statistics and measurement.

The applicability of a method or statistic varies with context, and is
a
function of matching the real world system to the logic of the
statistic. If
the semantic relation in the concept map is "enables", then a node
that
enables many concepts which themselves enable many concepts is a very
influential node, and measures of influence such as Hubbell's and
Katz's
make a lot of sense. Degree makes sense too. Even betweenness might be
interpretable.
>>>

Amen to that.

An excellent book taking this perspective and applying it to statistics
as practiced in the social sciences is

Statistics as Principled Argument  by Robert Abelson.


Peter

Peter L. Flom, PhD
Assistant Director, Statistics and Data Analysis Core
Center for Drug Use and HIV Research
National Development and Research Institutes
71 W. 23rd St
http://cduhr.ndri.org
www.peterflom.com
New York, NY 10010
(212) 845-4485 (voice)
(917) 438-0894 (fax)

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