Statistical Reasoning in Everyday Life

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Statistical Reasoning in Everyday Life

This chapter taught me the importance of understanding statistical data and how to evaluate it with common sense. Almost everyday we are subjected to statistical data in newspapers and on TV. My usual reaction was to accept those statistics as being valid. Which I think is a fair assessment for most people. However, reading this chapter opens my eyes to the fact that statistical data can be very misleading. It shows how data can be skewed to support a certain group's agenda. Although most statistical data presented may not seem to affect us personally in our daily lives, it can however have an impact. For example, statistics can influence the way people vote on certain issues.

In evaluating statistical data one thing to consider is the measure that is used. By understanding the different statistical measurement tools and how they differ from one another, it is possible to judge whether a statistical graph can be accepted at face value. A good example is using the mean to depict averages. This was demonstrated by using the mean as a measure of determining the distribution of incomes. The mean income depicted was, $70,000 per year. At face value, it looks as though the sample population enjoys a rather high income. However, upon seeing individual salaries, it becomes obvious that only a few salaries are responsible for the high average income as depicted by the mean. The majority of the salaries were well under the $70,000 average. Therefore, the mean distributed income of $70,000 was at best misleading. By also looking at the median and mode measures of the income distributions, one has a clearer picture of the actual income distributions. Because this data contained extreme values, a standard deviation curve would have given better representation of salary distribution and would have highlighted the salaries at the high level and how they skewed the mean value.

Another important concept outlined in this chapter is...
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