Statistics and Measurement in the Earth Sciences
The word statistics was first used in 1770, but with a rather different meaning from that used today. One chapter of Hooper’s The Elements of Universal Erudition published in 1770 is entitled ‘Statistics’ and deals with ‘the science that teaches us what is the political arrangement of all the modern States of the known world’ (Yule and Kendall, 1953). In the early decades of the nineteenth century the change to ‘statistics’ representing the characters of a State by numerical methods was taking place. Only by the end of the century were ‘statistics’ the summary figures used to describe and compare the properties of a set of observations. At about this time the theoretical basis of the science of statistics was being laid, and today we find the ideas of statistics on a firm basis and applied to the collection, summary and analysis of all types of data.
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