Penn State

Robert E. O'Conner - Professor of Political Science, Penn State University Park

Book Title: Social Statistics

Author: Hubert Blalock

Book Description:

In the fall of 1967 Professor Blalock was revising his textbook, so decided to teach the introductory statistics course for social science graduate students at the University of North Carolina. As a new graduate student, I had to take the course and expected the material to be boring, yet important for me to learn to become a competent social scientist. I was right about the importance and wrong about the interest level. The book - and his classes - inspired me by demonstrating that statistical methods could enable scholars to do research that can serve as a basis for social action and public policy decisions. The overarching message of Blalock's book and his teaching was that applying sophisticated methods to trivial problems is a poor choice of effort. I concluded that applying scientific social science methods to important societal concerns would be a worthwhile way to build a scholarly career and have been happiest when following this guidance.


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