3. Data Basics: Why use data?
Data are sometimes used to support or disprove a claim or hypothesis. Data are powerful tools if used properly. In some cases, you need a small amount of data. In other cases, researchers might collect too much data to store on a normal desktop computer. The idea is to use data to give evidence that something is true or a relationship is likely present (or possibly to disprove these).
Here are some hypotheses which would require data to prove:
- More women than men voted in the last presidential election in a majority of states
- A certain drug shows promising results in the treatment of pancreatic cancer
- Listening to certain genres of music lowers blood pressure
- People of certain religious denominations are more likely to find a specific television program objectionable
- The average weight of house cats in the United States has increased over the past 30 years
- The average square footage of supermarkets in the United States has increased in the past 20 years
- More tomatoes were consumed per person in the United Kingdom in 2012 than in 1962
Data can also be narrowed down to produce a list. Examples:
- The named X11 web colors which have a green component to them
- The counties in Ohio which have a population over 500,000
- U.S. department store chains which have more than 100 locations
You may not realize it, but you likely gather, use, and analyze data nearly every day. A trip to a grocery store, an argument with a friend, or a posting on Facebook could all involve data.
Check out this very detailed data about frozen lasagna.
Ever think this much data was available? Are there elements new to you? How might you use such data?
Watch this Little Red Riding Hood video to learn about the data behind the story.