I gave my presentation yesterday at the Joint Mathematics Meetings about the differences between mathematics and statistics and what it means for learners. This led to quite a bit of discussion about the structure of modern mathematics departments, which ones include statistics and which ones are separate from statistical education. Of course, we strongly suspect money and funding is a driving factor.

All in all, I drew a line in the sand between the concepts of formal sciences, those which start with axiomatic frameworks and derive results from those frameworks, and natural sciences, those driven by theory but confirmed by experiment. Statistics and mathematics, both formal sciences, maybe kind of sort of lumpable into one category. On the other hand, physics, like statistics, relies on mathematics but is not often grouped with mathematics. Of course, this is based on departmental structure, which is arbitrary, at best.

The big question, of course, is how this touches on instruction. I see a great many students who tell me how afraid they are of math. I think it may be that formal sciences require a different kind of thinking than the natural sciences and that motivates some students anxiety surrounding mathematics and statistics.

Being awesome, I captured the audio with my phone and overlaid it on the presentation, which you can now watch on YouTube, or click below. Unfortunately, I stopped recording before the questions.