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Free Statistical Alchemy 2020-12-28

Some modern aspects of Quality science are, quite simply alchemy. They sound really cool. They promise to make our jobs easier and simpler. Most utilize mathematical formulas giving them a veneer of statistical validity. They reference theories most of us have heard of and think we understand. Most also appeal to our human desire to have a yes or no answer. If only they actually worked. This article will test some of your long held beliefs and perhaps validate some of your long held skepticism and nagging doubts.

Quality practitioners are caught between two statistical approaches: statistical purity and statistical alchemy. Statistical purity is the realm of theoretical statistics; it is based on the precise estimation of population parameters. Statistical alchemy is primarily the realm of the binary yes or no answer derived from mathematical and physical fallacies.

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so. – Josh Billings, 1874 (popularly and ironically attributed incorrectly to Mark Twain)

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