Project Archive: Numbers don’t lie (but people do): Introduction to (ethical) statistics

This is a snapshot of project information archived on 2 September 2022. Please contact the project team for most recent updates.

Numbers don’t lie (but people do): Introduction to (ethical) statistics

Subject: Post-secondary Education

Book Language: English

Audience: Undergraduate introduction to statistics students

Created date: June 9, 2021

Updated date: August 12, 2021

Target Release Date: 2021-08-30


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With a teaching innovation grant from the University of Maryland, we created an OER introduction to statistics textbook. Our statistical textbook was designed utilizing the Google forms platform and just launched in Fall 2020. The goal of the text is to provide comprehensive and inclusive content needed for an undergraduate introductory statistics course. To this end, we compiled content from multiple other OER and non-OER sources as well as original content. Our current revisions will focus on:

Writing more original text to ensure the book is inclusive and consistent.

We believe that textbooks should be inclusive to all readers and there are many opportunities to make statistics texts more inclusive. For instance, almost all of the introductory statistics texts that we reviewed consistently use a male versus female example whenever discussing dichotomous variables. This example may make our non-binary students feel excluded. Anecdotally, this has been reported to us as instructors and we would aim to revise this example and use a more inclusive dichotomous variable example such as having a particular genetic marker or not, or athlete status (professional or not) or being able to wiggle your ears or not, etc. We also will be able to increase the consistency of how the text aligns with our teaching methods to enhance student learning and retention.

Discussing how statistics are used in research and applied, everyday life.

Discussing how statistics are used and misused in real life will help students learn to make informed decisions in their own life. For example, seeing how news articles, commercials, medical decisions and graduate schools use and potentially mislead with statistics will make it more relevant to students.

Advocating for the role statistics play in producing proper science.

We want to address scientific data fraud and the principles of open science use of statistics. We also want students to be informed of current controversies in statistics such as the criticisms of null hypothesis significance testing and alternatives such as Bayesian statistics. Keeping students at the forefront of the field’s evolution.

Discussing how statistics are used and misused:

In this chapter, we will acknowledge how statistics is used for the advancement of knowledge, but can also be used to advance unethical ideals. We will not shy away from the past sins of statistics such as founding fathers using statistics to argue for eugenics. We will also acknowledge how statistics are used in current social justice movements like the Black Lives Matter (BLM) Movement.

Increasing accessibility

We hope by increasing this accessibility of our book, it will have broad appeal for all social sciences. We will do this in multiple ways. Specifically, we will strive to increase accessibility according to WCAG 2.1 Standards such as increasing the distinguishable and understandable guidelines. We also will publish our text on Creative Commons so that it is accessible to more readers.

We also want to improve the readability of the actual text. Students often express that statistics texts are difficult to comprehend and produce anxiety. We aim to create a book that is able to communicate the complex topics of statistics in a conversational tone that follows a clear learning path to lead students to statistical knowledge and thinking.

Elevator Pitch

To help students transition from victims of statistics to being informed consumers and ethical producers of statistics, we have created and edited a textbook of statistical learning resources. The goal of our book is to provide comprehensive and inclusive content needed for an undergraduate introductory statistics course. We compiled content from multiple other open educational resources (OER) and non-OERs as well as original content. Our current focus is on writing a more inclusive and easily comprehensible text to teach statistics as well as discussing open science and the ethics of statistics in how they are used and misused. For more information please see our

Project Summary


Interested in helping?

We are always interested in receiving help from the broader community. Currently, we are focused on improving our licensing to make sure it meets the highest standards, and reviewing our textbook for errors and edits. We would also love help beta-testing the textbook, creating images for the textbook, and creating supplemental resources for the textbook. If you would like to help us in any of these areas (or if you have other ways to improve our text!) ,

please fill out this form

, and we will be in contact with you.

All contributors, editors, and reviewers will be recognized and credited.

Thank you for your interest!

Short Description:

Numbers don’t lie, but people do. Some of you will produce or use statistics in your life’s work and many of you will not. We all, however, are consumers and victims of statistics. We make choices under uncertainty on a daily basis, and statistics are often available to help us if we know how to interpret them. Moreover, other people will use statistics to make choices for us. For example, statistics often inform public policy decisions, medical advice and procedures, and recommendations for safety features on cars – the list is endless. And of course, statistics is at the core of psychological and behavioral research. In order to avoid common errors in human judgment and decision-making, to understand the basis for many public policy and other decisions that affect you, and to understand an important component of psychological research, you must have a basic foundation in statistical thinking and practice that this book aims to help you learn and master.

Current Book Draft