Good Math, Bad Math Finding the fun in good math; Shredding bad math and squashing the crackpots who espouse it.

Basics: Mean, Median, and Mode
Statistics is something that surrounds us every day – we’re constantly bombarded with statistics, in the form of polls, tests, ratings, etc. Understanding those statistics can be an important thing, but unfortunately, most people have never been taught just what statistics really mean, how they’re computed, or how to distinguish the different between statistics used properly, and statistics misused to deceive.

The most basic concept in statistics in the idea of an average. An average is a single number which represents the idea of a typical value. There are three different numbers which can represent the idea of an average value, and it’s important to know which one is being used, and whether or not that is appropriate. The three values are the mean, the median, and the mode.
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He’s been posting a series on the basic concepts of statistics.

Statistics isn’t difficult to understand. The difficulty is that the subjects are about everyday lives and our everyday “notions” about our lives and our unquestioning of what we “think” is going on. There are very nice rules in statistics which makes it difficult for someone to claim “truth” simply by citing a number or percentage– if the statement violates the rules, we are justified in asking for evidence from the speaker. The other difficulty many people find is that precision is demanded. “Everybody does….” “Most people are….” “Poorest places are…”, etc. are irresponsible statements without statistics.

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Examples of stats in action–

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