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Four Common Statistical Misconceptions You Should Avoid

Four Common Statistical Misconceptions You Should Avoid | Statistics in the News | Scoop.it
Statistics have become a fixture of modern society. We read them in news stories and they're used to determine policies that will affect every aspect of our lives. Unfortunately, many people wildly misinterpret them in fundamental ways.
Bill Bentley's insight:

Several good, basic things to know about using simple statistics.  A quote from the article that I like:  "Separated from reality, statistics are of limited value." Bill


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Will Morony's curator insight, July 27, 2013 5:43 PM

Great discussion starters.

 

Sharrock's curator insight, January 6, 9:02 AM

excerpt: "Statistics are heavily math-based, but they're used to analyze real-world scenarios and situations. Separated from reality, statistics are of limited value. Reliance on numbers as an unbiased representation of reality is comforting, but without tying it to real-life people and situations, the information borders on worthless."

Sharrock's curator insight, January 6, 9:03 AM

excerpt: "Statistics are heavily math-based, but they're used to analyze real-world scenarios and situations. Separated from reality, statistics are of limited value. Reliance on numbers as an unbiased representation of reality is comforting, but without tying it to real-life people and situations, the information borders on worthless."

Statistics in the News
Interesting or unusual and useful statistical data analysis articles.
Curated by Bill Bentley
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Robots take over Edmonton International Airport - Devon Dispatch

Robots take over Edmonton International Airport - Devon Dispatch | Statistics in the News | Scoop.it
Devon Dispatch
Robots take over Edmonton International Airport
Devon Dispatch
The software behind that ability is geared towards statistics as much as entertainment.
Bill Bentley's insight:

I think this qualifies as weird but still what a neat way to both help people and collect statistics on what people need in public places.


The data collected could be used to decide if there are enough signs, if they are clear, what the most common problems are, and how many men will propose to a simulated female robot.

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Will You Live Long Enough to See the U.S. Win the World Cup?

Will You Live Long Enough to See the U.S. Win the World Cup? | Statistics in the News | Scoop.it
A look at how soon the U.S. men's national team could challenge for soccer's ultimate trophy
Bill Bentley's insight:

Not weird, just interesting and a morbid way of putting it!

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Bad statistics that stop people from having kids - Imperial Valley Press

Bad statistics that stop people from having kids - Imperial Valley Press | Statistics in the News | Scoop.it
Bad statistics that stop people from having kids Imperial Valley Press What a tragedy it is when misinterpreted statistics and false paradigms keep many people from life's most joy-providing experiences, roles and stewardship — those of marriage,...
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Hmmm....according to this I think I should have had a lot more kids and should be removing rooms from my house right now.   

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How Can Rich People Vote Republican and Rich States Vote for Democrats? - Slate Magazine (blog)

How Can Rich People Vote Republican and Rich States Vote for Democrats? - Slate Magazine (blog) | Statistics in the News | Scoop.it
Slate Magazine (blog)
How Can Rich People Vote Republican and Rich States Vote for Democrats?
Slate Magazine (blog)
My doctor once recommended I take niacin for the sake of my heart.
Bill Bentley's insight:

If you are interested in the demographics of politics,  this well-written article, although a little longer than I normally post, it still easy to read and will keep your attention until the last line as it explains the question in the title.   It's also a helpful reminder to statisticians to 'watch it' when interpreting results!

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A Venture Capital Firm Just Named an Algorithm to Its Board of Directors - Entrepreneur

A Venture Capital Firm Just Named an Algorithm to Its Board of Directors - Entrepreneur | Statistics in the News | Scoop.it
Entrepreneur
A Venture Capital Firm Just Named an Algorithm to Its Board of Directors
Entrepreneur
It seems like every other day we read about some far-out, new technology that makes us scratch our heads and say, "What the heck?
Bill Bentley's insight:

What the heck?

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US steps in to balance sex in lab experiments - Vancouver Desi

US steps in to balance sex in lab experiments - Vancouver Desi | Statistics in the News | Scoop.it
NPR US steps in to balance sex in lab experiments Vancouver Desi Washington – In a bold decision to correct the skewed sex balance in labs among the scientific fraternity, the US government has announced that it will require all federally-funded...
Bill Bentley's insight:

Whoever wrote the headline for this article should have consulted an English major.   I think they left out a comma or something....

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10 Science Experiments You Can Eat with Your Kids | Mental Floss

10 Science Experiments You Can Eat with Your Kids | Mental Floss | Statistics in the News | Scoop.it
There's very little about cooking that doesn't involve chemistry, physics, biology, or even math. But don't tell your kids that. Sneak education into your kitchen with these 10 experiments, gathered from the websites of creative ...
Bill Bentley's insight:

This is a GREAT article if you have kids and like science.  No statistics here that I saw but it's very well written and fun and has great food experiments you can do with your kids and teach them some science at the same time.  Anyone who is reading my weird statistics blog probably also likes science.

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Lab Rats May Be Stressed By Men, Which May Skew Experiments - NPR (blog)

Lab Rats May Be Stressed By Men, Which May Skew Experiments - NPR (blog) | Statistics in the News | Scoop.it
NPR (blog) Lab Rats May Be Stressed By Men, Which May Skew Experiments NPR (blog) During the course of an experiment, students at McGill University in Montreal noticed something odd: Rodents didn't seem to be showing signs of pain if they were...
Bill Bentley's insight:

This may be an argument to use more robots in our labs.   Roomba, are you listening?

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How to Lie with Statistics: Stand Your Ground and Gun Deaths » Sociological Images

How to Lie with Statistics: Stand Your Ground and Gun Deaths » Sociological Images | Statistics in the News | Scoop.it
How to lie w statistics: Reuters releases misleading graph on Stand Your Ground, death by gun: http://t.co/3YqX8DjMz2 http://t.co/pzlDxHU6tq
Bill Bentley's insight:

Let the reader be warned.   Many who publish statistics have an agenda and manipulate their presentations to imply the opposite of what is true.  This article is a good example of one such manipulation exposed.   Listen to many politicians or biased news channels to see similar examples.  Keep your brain engaged and don't only listen to things you already believe!

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ROBERT SHILLER: This One Chart Shows Why The US Is Years Away From Recession

ROBERT SHILLER: This One Chart Shows Why The US Is Years Away From Recession | Statistics in the News | Scoop.it
"No recession for years to come." (Can work week hours predict a recession?
Bill Bentley's insight:

I like this analysis but as they always say in the investment community, 'past performance is no guarantee of future results'.  They say this just as they cash your check.

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Skydiver almost hit by meteorite in midair, has video to prove it | Science! | Geek.com

Skydiver almost hit by meteorite in midair, has video to prove it | Science! | Geek.com | Statistics in the News | Scoop.it
Jumping out of plane several miles above the Earth is already dangerous enough without space rocks bombarding you, but that’s what happened to Anders Helstrup back in 2012. The experienced Norwegian skydiver was [...]
Bill Bentley's insight:

If you like to read about improbable events actually happening, read this article and watch this video.   It's pretty amazing.   If you feel like estimating the odds of this happening, I'd like to see what you come up with!

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Sinister Statistics: Do Left Handed People Die Young?

Sinister Statistics: Do Left Handed People Die Young? | Statistics in the News | Scoop.it
In 1991 Halpern and Coren published a famous study in the New England Journal of Medicine which appears to show that left handed people die at much younger ages than right-handed people.
Bill Bentley's insight:

Whew... Glad I'm right handed!

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50 Reasons We're Living Through the Greatest Period in World History - Motley Fool

50 Reasons We're Living Through the Greatest Period in World History - Motley Fool | Statistics in the News | Scoop.it
50 Reasons We're Living Through the Greatest Period in World History
Motley Fool
It's probably the single most useful piece of software ever invented, and it's free for anyone to use. 27. High school ...
Bill Bentley's insight:

The only thing weird about these statistics is that they will be a surprise to most of you.  With all the biased doom and gloom reporting that we are subjected to every day, these statistics should cheer you up.

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YOU’RE MORE LIKELY TO BE BITTEN BY LUIS SUAREZ THAN A SHARK

YOU’RE MORE LIKELY TO BE BITTEN BY LUIS SUAREZ THAN A SHARK | Statistics in the News | Scoop.it

I offer you this simple statistic simply to show the importance of context and relativity (not Einstein's, just comparing two things)  when discussing how risky things really are.   :-)

Bill Bentley's insight:

Uruguay striker Suarez has bitten two players during his 441-match professional career – before he decided to take a chunk out of Giorgio Chiellini.


That means that Suarez, on average, if you say he faces 14 players per match (11 starters and three subs), bites one in every 2000 players, which works out as one bite every 147 matches.


And according to numbers crunched by the New Statesman, it means you’re more likely to be bitten by Suarez than a shark.
Sharks, statistically, bite one in every 3.7million people swimming in the ocean.


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What Not To Serve Buzzards For Lunch, A Glorious Science Experiment - NPR (blog)

What Not To Serve Buzzards For Lunch, A Glorious Science Experiment - NPR (blog) | Statistics in the News | Scoop.it
NPR (blog)
What Not To Serve Buzzards For Lunch, A Glorious Science Experiment
NPR (blog)
So he tried a second experiment. On a hot July day, he took a dead hog, dragged it into a meadow and covered it with cane stalks.
Bill Bentley's insight:

No equations or numbers to worry about in this really fun and informative article but it's a great example of cause and effect experimentation which is, after all, a big part of applied statistics.   Read it and enjoy.


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An algorithm that decides who deserves to inherit your wealth - LifeHealthPro

An algorithm that decides who deserves to inherit your wealth - LifeHealthPro | Statistics in the News | Scoop.it
An algorithm that decides who deserves to inherit your wealth LifeHealthPro This article puts forward a most intriguing idea: a computer algorithm that would determine who —siblings, extended family members, the house maid or others—gets to inherit...
Bill Bentley's insight:

Interesting idea.   I'm working on a personal version of this now so if you know me, now is the time to be nice.  Or is it time to be logical?   Hmm.... 

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Missing the Point With Statistics - Mother Jones

Missing the Point With Statistics - Mother Jones | Statistics in the News | Scoop.it
Mother Jones
Missing the Point With Statistics
Mother Jones
So I switched over to CNN to see if anything was going on, and caught a pretty good example of how to miss the point with statistics. The chart at issue is on the right.
Bill Bentley's insight:

This short article demonstrates nicely why people who analyze data need to have some subject matter expertise about the system and topic they are studying, or be working with a team where someone has it, not just be number crunchers. <- Apparently my spelling checker thinks that 'cruncher' is not a word.  What does it know?

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Experiments in Second Life Reveal Alternative Laws of Physics - MIT Technology Review

Experiments in Second Life Reveal Alternative Laws of Physics - MIT Technology Review | Statistics in the News | Scoop.it
Experiments in Second Life Reveal Alternative Laws of Physics
MIT Technology Review
Experiments in Second Life Reveal Alternative Laws of Physics.
Bill Bentley's insight:

I have a virtual cannon in Second Life which I use for Six Sigma Black Belt experiments.  I challenge anyone to find out if my cannon has altered the laws of 'Earth physics' or if it is duplicating them. Contact me to make arrangements to test it.

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Funnyball: Baseball Statistics We'd Love to See - Forbes

Funnyball: Baseball Statistics We'd Love to See - Forbes | Statistics in the News | Scoop.it
Forbes
Funnyball: Baseball Statistics We'd Love to See
Forbes
Once upon a time I played left field on a Little League team in suburban Milwaukee.
Bill Bentley's insight:

If you collect the data for these, I'll do the statistical analysis for them!

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Estimation of acute oral toxicity in rat using local lazy learning - 7thSpace Interactive (press release)

Estimation of acute oral toxicity in rat using local lazy learning 7thSpace Interactive (press release) Results: In this study, we reported the use of local lazy learning (LLL) methods, which could capture subtle local structure-toxicity...
Bill Bentley's insight:

This is a serious medical article with some simple statistics principles mentioned.  But that isn't why I put it on my blog.  I like the term 'Lazy Learning' that they use to describe what they do.  

 

Being a new grad student myself, I see other students up close now and can tell that most of them are hard working learners but some are 'lazy learners'.  I also use a service called Freelancers.com to get programming done for me.   There you can get quotes from around the world to have others do work for you.  

 

I am appalled at the number of students who use this service to pay others to do their homework, their class projects and EVEN THEIR PHD THESIS for them!   I like the description 'lazy leaner' and have seen it in action but not in the context of this article.!

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How to Have an Honest Data-Driven Debate

How to Have an Honest Data-Driven Debate | Statistics in the News | Scoop.it
Ask each side to make their opponents' argument. (How to play fair with statistics http://t.co/Czw2BQlvMy)
Bill Bentley's insight:

This is a bit dry but it's well written and staggeringly useful.   If we all practiced this technique, the irrational polarization of our politics (both community and company) and news would come to a screeching halt. Those of you who *think* you make data based decisions should read this and see if you really do!

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College President: SAT Is Part Hoax, Part Fraud

College President: SAT Is Part Hoax, Part Fraud | Statistics in the News | Scoop.it
The president of Bard College says recent changes to the SAT are motivated by the competition that College Board has experienced with its arch rival, the ACT, rather than any serious soul searching ("the only persistent statistical result from the...
Bill Bentley's insight:

I've always thought these tests are poor predictors, this article gives some substantial support to that.  

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Beer, Statistics, and Quality - Statistics and Quality Data Analysis | Minitab

Beer, Statistics, and Quality - Statistics and Quality Data Analysis | Minitab | Statistics in the News | Scoop.it
Bill Bentley's insight:

If you've taken a Six Sigma Black Belt class from me you've heard a short version of this story.  Here is the rest of it.

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Seven dead in shooting at Turkey statistics office: TV - Yahoo News

www.worldbulletin.net Seven dead in shooting at Turkey statistics office: TV Yahoo News ISTANBUL (Reuters) - A former state employee shot dead six people at a Turkish Statistics Institute (TUIK) office in the eastern province of Kars before...
Bill Bentley's insight:

This is tragic but also weird.  When people think about statistics they don't imagine gun-toting, short tempered people.  I'm in graduate school for applied statistics and this article has me resolved to avoid inflammatory statements such as 'I reject the null hypothesis' in future reports. 

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Peter Donnelly: How stats fool juries - YouTube

http://www.ted.com Oxford mathematician Peter Donnelly reveals the common mistakes humans make in interpreting statistics -- and the devastating impact these...
Bill Bentley's insight:

I don't normally scoop videos but if you can get past the first few minutes of bad statistics jokes in this one, the rest of it is enlightening and scary about how our general knowledge of uncertainty leads most of us, including juries, to regularly make very bad decisions.   If you like logical decision making, this is worth the 21 minutes it takes to view the entire video and once you are past the first five you won't be able to turn it off.

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