How statistics “change(s) the way you see the world”

This article suggests looking at some well-known statistics problems will “change the way you see the world.” Enjoy the Monty Hall problem, the birthday paradox, gambler’s ruin, Abraham Wald’s memo, and Simpson’s paradox.

Here is what is missing from this article: explaining how statistics is helpful beyond these five particular cases. How would statistics help in a different situation? What is the day-to-day usefulness of statistics? I would suggest several things:

1. Statistics helps move us away from individualistic or anecdotal views of reality and toward a broader view.

2. Statistics can encourage us to ask questions about “reality” and look for data and hidden patterns.

3. Knowing about statistics can help people decipher the numbers that see every day in news stories and advertisements. What do survey or poll results mean? What numbers can I trust?

Tackling these sorts of issues would be much better for the public than looking at five fun and odd applications of statistics. Of course, these three points may not be as interesting as five statistical brain teasers but these five cases should be used to point us to the larger issues at hand.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s