Public Health Expert Publishes Book Examining Biostatistics
Dr. David Baronov, professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology and Sociology, recently published a book, Biostatistics: An Introduction and Conceptual Critique. Baronov has had a long-term interest in writing a book about the ontological distortions present in the social sciences, but it was not until the COVID-19 pandemic, and a timely sabbatical, that he found the time to write more actively.
Baronov holds a wealth of experience working in and performing research in the field of public health. Since the early 1990s, he has worked in several capacities for the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Fundación SIDA in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He has also conducted research on the impact of HIV/AIDS in Mozambique, the role of traditional healers in Kenya, public health needs of mountain villages in Myanmar, and the abolition of slavery in Brazil. His experience with these topics and with a multitude of cultures led him to question how society approaches the social sciences, a central topic for the book.
Throughout his experience teaching biostatistics, it became evident to Baronov that while many of the available textbooks on biostatistics do an excellent job in teaching the more technical aspects of the field, they are lacking in addressing the underlying assumptions that give the content form. “I thought it would be interesting to write a book that combined this technical content with the conceptual premises that made this content possible and that explained why the content looked the way that it did,” he explained.
Baronov’s interest in the topic stems from his own thoughts and perspective in terms of the social sciences. He cited a major shift in the 1950s toward quantification and statistical representation in the social sciences, which he states is not a one-size-fits-all type of approach. “The work of social scientists has been increasingly biased toward subjects that are most easily turned into quantitative representations of the social world,” he said. “The book, in part, considers the consequences of this attempt to align the methods of the social sciences with those in the natural sciences.”
This article was written by Tyler Cole ’23, a cybersecurity major and PR Writing Intern in the Office of Marketing and Communications.