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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Statistical Assumptions as Empirical Commitments

  • Author(s): Berk, Richard
  • Freedman, David A.
  • et al.

Researchers who study punishment and social control, like those who study other social phenomena, typically seek to generalize their findings from the data they have to some larger context: in statistical jargon, they generalize from a sample to a population. Generalizations are one important product of empirical inquiry. Of course, the process by which the data are selected introduces uncertainty. Indeed, any given dataset is but one of many that could have been studied. If the dataset had been different, the statistical summaries would have been different, and so would the conclusions, at least by a little.

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