Re: [R] Re-binning histogram data

From: Chris Evans <>
Date: Fri 09 Jun 2006 - 17:59:35 EST

François Pinard sent the following at 09/06/2006 00:53:
> [Berton Gunter]

>> I would argue that histograms are outdated relics and that density  
>> plots (whatever your favorite flavor is) should **always** be used 
>> instead these days.

> When a now retired researcher paid us a visit, I showed him a density
> plot produced by R over some data he did work a lot, before he left.
> I, too, find them rather sexy, and I wanted to impress him with some of
> the pleasures of R, especially knowing he has been a dedicated user of
> SAS in his times. Yet, this old and wise man _immediately_ caught that
> the density curve was leaking a tiny bit through the extrema.
> Not a big deal of course -- and he did like what he saw. Nevertheless,

... rest snipped ...

I did like Francois's post very much and confess I'm not very familiar with density plots and use histograms a lot still. However, I'm not a statistician, though like to think I'm not a complete Luddite.

Rather naive question: doesn't this depend a bit on whether you see yourself as describing the sample or describing the (inferred) population. It's intrigued me, much though I think the developing graphical methods of data exploration are wonderful, that I think that distinction between sample and population is not made as clearly for graphical methods as perhaps it would be if the presentation were textual. Perhaps that's because it's often implicitly pretty clear, for example, boxplots and histograms, with inevitable problems, describing samples, some density plots at least, implicitly describing populations.

I know there's an argument that only the inferences (and their CIs) about the population are statistics and the rest is accountancy but I am not happy with that idea!

I'd be interested to hear others' views even if we are rather OTT (Off The Topic, not Over The Top) here. Perhaps I'm completely wrong?

Thanks to all for their posts, as ever, I'm learning much.


Chris Evans <>
Hon. Professor of Psychotherapy, Nottingham University;
Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy, Rampton Hospital;
Research Programmes Director, Nottinghamshire NHS Trust;
Hon. SL Institute of Psychiatry, Hon. Con., Tavistock & Portman Trust
**If I am writing from one of those roles, it will be clear. Otherwise**

**my views are my own and not representative of those institutions    **

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