How have software packages made statistical tables obsolete? Do statistical tables change over time? Why or why not? If not for the statistical tables and software packages, how would you derive the values contained in the statistical tables?
I don’t think that software packages have made statistical tables absolutely obsolete. Statistical tables are learning tools that can impart knowledge of the underlying mechanisms of statistics. The danger in allowing computers to do all of our calculations is that we might not understand the underlying logic behind the calculations. Also, tables seem to be a mainstay of statistical analyses. They haven’t changed much in the near past. Without statistical tables and software packages, we would be forced to visualize the scores in a distribution mentally and then try to derive patterns from that mental visualization. This is of course highly unlikely that many of us could do this. I mean Ebbinghaus established that, on average, people can only remember 7 sets of random, three-letter non-sense syllables at a time. In the case of statistical tables that would mean that the sample would need to be less than 7 scores in order for us to remember, let alone visualize the distribution. Software packages do have their place though. I could not imagine some of these big studies we have read about doing all of the calculation manually.
Aron, A., Aron, E., & Coups, E. (2006). Statistics for psychology (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Allyn Bacon.