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Fundamentals of Statistics 1: Basic Concepts :: What is Statistics?
The statistics most people are familiar with from the news, sports and books are usually about describing data. What does the average American spend on popcorn at the Movie Theater?

Statistics is also using data to predict things that are unknown. We can be 95% confident more people will vote for Candidate A than B.

Statistical analysis is like solving mysteries with data. We start with questions and attempt to answer them with data instead of our intuition. When we assemble enough data we make predictions.

With predictions, there's always a chance that we'll be wrong. Much of statistics is understanding what we know from data we do have, making our best prediction about data we don't have, and clearly understanding the chance that we're wrong and quantifying that.

Summarizing data by describing the average or mean and the minimums and maximum is part of descriptive statistics and is the one we hear a lot on TV and sports--hence the describing of data.

When we want to make predictions or infer things from data we're using inferential statistics. In inferential statistics we usually have just a subset of data, or a sample, taken from a larger group which is referred to as a population.

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