[R] Giving a first good impression of R to Social Scientists
andy_liaw at merck.com
Thu Aug 12 18:25:03 CEST 2004
> From: Barry Rowlingson
> Thomas Lumley wrote:
> > On Thu, 12 Aug 2004, Rau, Roland wrote:
> >>That is why would like to ask the experts on this list if
> anyone of you has
> >>encountered a similar experience and what you could advise
> to persuade
> >>people quickly that it is worth learning a new software?
> The usual way of teaching R seems to be bottom-up. Here's
> the command
> prompt, type some arithmetic, make some assignments, learn about
> function calls and arguments, write your own functions, write
> your own
> Perhaps a top-down approach might help certain cases. People using
> point-n-click packages tend to use a limited range of analyses. Write
> some functions that do these analyses, or give them wrappers so that
> they get something like:
> > myData = readDataFile("foo.dat")
> Read 4 variables: Z, Age, Sex, Disease
> > analyseThis(myData, response="Z", covariate="Age")
> Z = 0.36 * Age, Significance level = 0.932
> or whatever. Really spoon feed the things they need to do. Make it
> really easy, foolproof.
The problem is that the only `fool' that had been `proof' against is the one
that the developer(s) had imagined. One cannot under-estimate users'
ability to out-fool the developers' imagination...
> Then show them what's behind the analyseThis() function.
> How its not
> even part of the R distribution. How easy you made it for a
> beginner to
> do a complex and novel analysis. Then maybe it'll "click" for
> them, and
> they'll see how having a programming language behind their statistics
> functions lets them explore in ways not thought possible with the
> point-n-click paradigm. Perhaps they'll start editing
> analyseThis() and
> write analyseThat(), start thinking for themselves.
> Or maybe they'll just stare at you blankly...
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