One aphorism quips, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Although statistics are, on occasion, used to deceive and manipulate, the honest use of them can make a great deal of difference politically. For political decision makers, the systematic collection and analysis of data can make all the difference in identifying and solving problems. For citizens, the open dissemination of statistics can keep government in line. For political scientists, statistical analysis allows us to better describe how politics works and why.
After reading this chapter, you should:
- Understand why statistics are important in politics
- Understand why political scientists use statistics
- Know the basic elements of the scientific method
- Understand the difference between qualitative and quantitative research
- Be able to produce the basic structure of a professional memo