I asked Kaiser Fung this question in my previous podcast, Interpretations of Data. The short answer to that question was
Statistics is not there to eliminate or to cure variability. Variability is something that’s out there that cannot be cured. What statistics does is to create a way for us to measure the degree of variability. Because the whole point is that if you don’t know, as you are unable to measure it, you don’t know how large or how small the variability is. You cannot find ways to minimize it. So it is certainly true that the whole point is to try to figure out how big it is.
The long answer is in this transcription of the original podcast from two years ago. Where we discussed Kaiser first book, Numbers Rule Your World: The Hidden Influence of Probabilities and Statistics on Everything You Do. It is a great introduction to the podcast this week.
Kaiser Fung is a professional statistician with over a decade of experience applying statistical methods to marketing and advertising businesses. His acclaimed blog, Junk Charts, pioneered the critical examination of data and graphics in the mass media. Kaiser is my guest next week on the podcast and this is an excerpt from it. Kaiser recently wrote his second book, Numbersense: How to Use Big Data to Your Advantage.