The Art of Counting’s premier statistical guru weighs in on Factor Analysis

Our amazing statistical partner, Lili Garrard, is a Senior Analyst at the University of Kansas School of Nursing.  She has been involved with the Art of Counting project for more than four years now and has performed a wide array of analyses on the data from Ramses III’s memorial temple at Medinet Habu.  Through this quantifiable process, she has helped reveal a large number of variable usage patterns inherent in the data…but previously unrecognized by scholars.

Lili recently weighed in on some of the statistically-centered posts.  In response to an explanation of Factor Analysis, which is Lili’s specialty, she says:

What a great way to describe Factor Analysis! Love the movie theater analogy. The example shown in this post comes from the initial findings of Exploratory Factor Analysis. This type of analysis is usually the first step taken when there’s no prior knowledge about the data. When data are collected from multiple images, there are lots of scenarios and variables. Associations exist among the different variables and it’s our job to find out what these associations are. The findings here are not absolute. As Amy mentioned, it provides new ideas for future investigation. Once we feel comfortable about the grouping of variables, we can further our analysis by confirming the factor structure. This type of analysis is called Confirmatory Factor Analysis. Factor Analysis is truly an art by itself. Proper usage of this type of advanced statistical analysis can provide enormous information for researchers.

Lili also provided great feedback on a brief article comparing Directed searching vs. Data-driven research:

This is an excellent article. It describes the essence of your research. The idea of being data-driven is what makes this research ground breaking. For someone who has no knowledge about ancient Egypt, data-driven research provides a fresh look at the history, or the history we have been “assuming” for years. One of my favorite quotes says “the truth is rarely pure and never simple.” What made us so sure about what really happened thousands of years ago? What made us believe that the pictures really told the truth? For years, what we know about ancient Egypt came from visual analysis of numerous researchers. Each one of them introduces his/her own bias into the studies. The time for the data to speak for itself has finally come.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.  Thank you, Lili!

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The Art of Counting is dedicated to the memory of Margery Meilleur, who first taught me to view history through the eyes of the images we create.