Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Updates: Finished first Harvard Course, etc.

Peekaboo the baby elephant gives me a hug after I feed
her cucumbers and bananas. Ayutthaya, Thailand.

Hello, all. After four months, 850 pages of text, 22 hours of lectures, 12 hours of labs, 200 pages of handwritten notes, three quizzes, 12 homework assignments, one final paper of data analysis and three exams (including a three-hour final that required 13 pages or formulas and charts for reference), I passed Harvard's Introduction to Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences.

It was, to put it mildly, challenging. It was also generally interesting and likely to prove useful in the future. The main gist of the class is that, through careful reasoning, it is possible to turn any question about the real world into a mathematically-testable hypothesis, and analyze findings to determine the probability that either A: there is no experimental effect or relationship between two conditions, or B: there is a definite, quantifiable pattern that is not due to chance.

The formulas look deceptively simple, but are very powerful tools for scientific inquiries. While mathematics isn't where my strengths lie, Dr. Krasnow and his teaching assistants did a good job at conveying the core material.

I do recommend that anyone considering taking the course definitely use supplementary source material to help in understanding. I found Chegg.com and Dr. Elizabeth Bauer's NYU lecture series to be particularly helpful.

At the end of the month, I'll arrive in Boston to continue the studies, and look forward to the less "mathcentric" courses. Wish me luck.

In the meantime, Thailand is a paradise, where the air always smells like flowers, and the native people are fantastically friendly and polite. You cannot find a more amazing place to vacation and lose all your stress than Thailand. I recommend it unreservedly.

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