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If I live in a town with a guy who has $1B along with 1000 people who have nothing, then we each have $1M. Right?

If I live next door to a guy who makes $100M and I make nothing, then I'm rich: I make $50M a year. Right?

I have to say that particular paragraph in the NYT piece is just writing fluff, not intended to be actual serious thought.


To judge "general statistics an utter failure", we'll have to eliminate selection bias in the sample of journalists we're looking at.
Following blogs like yours and Andrew Gelman's that focus on examples of statistics done wrong (AG: Am I too negative?), it's tempting to conclude that, yes, the general public is bad with statistical thinking.
But then there are also so many people doing stats well. Look at the people Alberto Cairo presents in "the functional art"...

"As if we need more evidence"?
Maybe. But in the form of n=1 examples?
They are valuable and important (and LA-Times should post an excuse and explanation, since they reach their readers while we likely don't), but let's not become too negative ;-)

Berry Boessenkool


Berry: I deliberately made this post "negative" because I don't believe the teaching profession has taken up this challenge. What are the most common comments we hear from students who have taken Stats 101? "Boring", "hard", "didn't understand it", "didn't like it", "hated it", "glad it's over", etc. If we document every instance of poor statistical thinking-not to pick on newspapers but also on blogs, on talk shows, in business meetings- the list will be long.

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