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Statistics and the Medical Journal

Am J Dis Child. 1985;139(3):226-228. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1985.02140050020011.
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Many clinicians first interact with statistics with enthusiasm when they need to make sense out of their own research observations. Until the encounter becomes "personal," statistics may remain a jumble of tedious number tasks, arcane terminology, and oddly sinuous logic (null hypotheses, degrees of freedom, two-tailed tests, etc). However, the excitement of trying to understand homegrown, personal data may introduce the clinician to the graceful, aesthetically engaging ceremonies of biostatistics.

Some clinicians have the good fortune to meet an exciting teacher or preceptor who brings the subject alive. This is ideal when it occurs in the early, obligatory introductory courses; but it can occur at any time, even in the impersonal pages of medical journals.

Many of us stand in awe of the majesty of "mathematics," and this awe may induce a dread of the complexity of statistics. The methods have many of the trappings of mathematics; the


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