Statistics Can Be Fun

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Charlie Wheelan, author of Naked Economics and Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data, explains statistics to those who slept through the class.

The Schlitz ads discussed by Charlie Wheelan


Charlie Wheelan

Comments [12]

John A

Statistics about September 11th: How many people have died in response to September 11 than had died In September 11. That's the one that sticks with me.

Jan. 16 2013 11:53 AM

The risk can't be calcuated per capita but also by exposure time and the amt of people that have guns in the house. So how many people who do have guns in the house have accidents. You also spend a lot more time in a car, so the risk has to be calculated by unit time spent in the mode of transport. The risk of any accident occuring in a vehcile in which you spend say, 4 hrs per year (one vacation flight) is of course very small. If you spent that much time in your car, you would also have a a very small risk of accident.

Jan. 16 2013 11:53 AM

Fallacy: "a gun in the home is 43 times more likely to kill a family member than an intruder."

The "43 times" fallacy is based on a biased sample of subjects with extraordinary rates of arrest, drug abuse, and other dysfunction. One researcher noted Kellerman and his associates "acknowledged that a true risk-benefit consideration of guns in the home should (but did not in their 'calculations') include cases in which... "intruders are wounded or frightened away by the use or display of a firearm...."

Although even Kellerman eventually disavowed his original results, groups like North Carolinians Against Gun Violence continue to pummel his propaganda into the public consciousness.

Jan. 16 2013 11:52 AM
Robert from NYC

Actually I am horribly afraid of being in a car and I love to fly. I don't drive, never have, don't have a license but whenever I am in someone's care I fear for everything especially trailers (semis is some places) whenever we pass one I scream like a fool and cover my eye. I always ask drivers to take highways that don't allow trucks, like parkways if that is an option. I hate the turnpikes in NJ although they do have a cars only lane.

Jan. 16 2013 11:51 AM
kp from nj

People are terrible at assessing risk. Back in the 1990's, my financial adviser actually told me we are in a 'new paradigm' where the stock market will never go down ever again.....I fired him. What could he possibly know about money or anything else for that matter

Jan. 16 2013 11:50 AM
kthmcgv from nyc

Regarding flying vs driving, I once heard that those stats were based on miles, not each take off, is that correct?

Jan. 16 2013 11:49 AM
Bill from Cold Spring, NY

It sounds like the equation on whether to insure is over-simplified. How does your guest account for retail vs. wholesale. If I need to call someone to fix an non-insured appliance, the price I pay must be more than what it would cost the insurer. Are there not situations where the insurer and insured can find value? This seems especially true of healthcare. If you only insure against catastrophe, you will pay a fortune for every visit to a doctor since you don't get the wholesale-group rates.

Jan. 16 2013 11:43 AM
Robert from NYC

I agree with you Brian on Lottery tickets that's how I buy them, every now and then. And that's because "you never know"!

Jan. 16 2013 11:43 AM

How charming to hear someone use a plural verb with "data."

Jan. 16 2013 11:42 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

I bought $368.00 insurance on a $2,700. laptop and when it malfunctioned and could not be fixed, they sent me a check for $2,200.00. Risk is more personal than statistical from the buyer's standpoint.

Jan. 16 2013 11:40 AM
Robert from NYC

ha ha ha ha ha ha lol he threw the printer out the back door, l love it a man after my own heart lol.

Jan. 16 2013 11:39 AM
Ben from Westchester

This is a useful conversation to have, so that people realize (as they always forget) that the drive to the airport is more dangerous than the plane flight.

But some of the analogies are bogus. Our home has a pool, for example, and we do not own any guns. But I have ZERO problem if the local newspaper wants to run a database of everyone who has a pool in the neighborhood. (I'll just have to push back on a few chemical salesmen.)

And we also have strict rules as to when the pool is unlocked and how many adults need to be present if children are inside the gates. And we tell any parent sending a child over during the summer that we have a pool and we explain these rules about supervising while swimming.

I am not certain gun owners are as transparent.

Jan. 16 2013 11:34 AM

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