Numerical data are everywhere. Charts and statistics appear not just in geography journals but also in the media, in public policy, and in business and commerce too. To engage with quantitative geography, we must engage with the quantitative methods used to collect, analyse, present and interpret these data. Quantitative Geography: The Basics is the perfect introduction for undergraduates beginning any quantitative methods course. Written in short, user-friendly chapters with full-colour diagrams, the book guides the reader through a wide range of topics from the basic to the more advanced, including: • Statistics • Maths • Graphics • Models • Mapping and GIS • R Closely aligned with the Q-Step quantitative social science programme, Quantitative Geography: The Basics is the ideal starting point for understanding and exploring this fundamental area of Geography.

The Use and Abuse of Statistics

The Use and Abuse of Statistics

2.1 Introduction

In a House of Commons committee meeting in 2012, the (then) British Education Minister, Michael Gove MP, was asked about his aspiration for all schools to be graded good or better on inspection. How is this possible, he was questioned, if the definition of a good school is one at which pupil performance exceeds the national average. ‘By getting better all the time,’ he answered.

Few would disagree that raising educational standards is a laudable aim. However, impossible targets are impossible to meet. By definition, not all schools can be above the average. Even if every one gets better, the average rises with them. It was an innocent mistake but one that caused ...

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