1 <ONLINE MODERN HISTORY REVIEW> April 1994 2 3 4 T.P. Hutchinson, <Version 2 (History and Archaeology) 5 of Essentials of Statistical Methods> (Adelaide, 6 Australia: Rumsby Scientific Publishing, 1993), 152pp. 7 8 Reviewer: Peggy Anne Phillips 9 University of Miami 10 11 12 This little volume tackles one of the most difficult 13 problems in teaching statistical methods to students with minimal 14 preparation in mathematics. Hutchinson is successful in making 15 the basic steps less forbidding. Some of the equations are 16 presented in actual words as well as the conventional symbols. In 17 the first chapter the calculation of the mean is simply described 18 as 'adding the numbers together and dividing by how many numbers 19 there are'. Unfortunately as the concepts and equations become 20 more complex, which they do very rapidly in this brief text, it 21 is not possible to maintain the same 'student friendly' style. 22 Indeed this depth of treatment of the questions of probability 23 and inference is a delightful surprise and necessary for a 24 serious grounding in quantitative methods which Hutchinson's text 25 offers. The discussion of inference is the strongest part of the 26 text for historians and complements the chapters on data 27 description and probability. 28 29 Interspersed in the text are brief excerpts from recent 30 historical studies such as J. Komlos, 'The secular trend in the 31 biological standard of living in the United Kingdom, 1730-1860,' 32 <Economic History Review> (1993), J. B. Pritchett and H. 33 Freudenberger, 'A peculiar example: The selection of slaves for 34 the New Orleans market,' <Journal of Economic History> (1992) 35 which fall squarely in the middle of contemporary debates over 36 the relative importance of biology and environment in shaping 37 society. While that controversy is clearly outside the scope of 38 this volume it does point to the significant philosophical debate 39 that swirls around this important area of quantitative history. 40 On page 41 in the chapter on probability, Hutchinson mentions in 41 passing the active debates on the philosophy of probability. For 42 historians it would be helpful to have a clear accessible 43 description of these questions since they play a critical role in 44 the interpretation of quantitative evidence. Historians need more 45 than just the recipes. 46 47 As noted in the forward it was the author's intention to 48 produce an inexpensive hand sized book that would be used readily 49 by students. The result is a cramped text with small type. This 50 is especially a problem with the more complex probability 51 equations. Yet on the whole the volume is a worthwhile compliment 52 to any serious quantitative methods course in history. 53 =======================