1     	<ONLINE MODERN HISTORY REVIEW>          April 1994
4     	     T.P. Hutchinson, <Version 2 (History and Archaeology)
5     	     of Essentials of Statistical Methods> (Adelaide,
6     	     Australia: Rumsby Scientific Publishing, 1993), 152pp.
8     	          Reviewer:  Peggy Anne Phillips
9     	                     University of Miami
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.
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.
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.
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