Mixed Signals

Abstract:There are a number of terms used in statistics that can be confusing to those not in the discipline. Words such as "kriging" are unique to statistics, so it is relatively easy to avoid confusing an audience with them as long as definitions are provided when necessary. Other words, such as "random," "control" or "expectation," are used in one sense by the general population but have one or more other meanings for statisticians. Still others, like "analysis," "model" or "parameter," can cause a great deal of confusion to those knowledgeable in other fields, since they have different specific meanings in specific disciplines. When talking about statistics with nonstatisticians, it is important to be aware of the potential confusion caused by the words being used. Sidebar articles give examples of words with multiple meanings, explain the unique background that contributes to the authors’ ability to overcome language barriers, a warning about using acronyms, and a list of online glossaries and …

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I found the article very insightful. Because most of us work in collaborative environments, it was interesting to see how the same word translates differently in various disciplines, explaining why sometimes people have puzzled expressions during a discussion.
--Tony Gojanovic, 11-15-2010

Excellent! It is worth noting that the conundrum of mistakenly interpreting terms of art with their English language connotations extends beyond statistics. Examples from systems engineering include "Requirement" versus requirement and "Specification" versus specification.
--GM Samaras, 11-08-2010

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