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Olympics by the Numbers February 15, 2010

Posted by pupfiction in Uncategorized.
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Here’s a pretty little infographic from Fastcompany.com, aesthetically displaying some statistics about the Olympics.(Click image for a larger view.)

Numbers Don’t Lie, or Do They? Simpson’s Paradox Explains December 2, 2009

Posted by dataduchess in Uncategorized.
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The Numbers Guy over at The Wall Street Journal had a really interesting article today. He explains a concept called Simpson’s Paradox, which essentially says aggregated data is sometimes misleading. For example,

… in both 1995 and 1996, Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees had a lower batting average for each season than David Justice, then of the Atlanta Braves.

Combining the two years, however, Mr. Jeter had a better average. The paradox resulted from the fact that in 1995 Mr. Jeter had only 48 at-bats with a .250 average while Mr. Justice had more at-bats (411) with a .253 average. The following year, Mr. Jeter had 582 at-bats with a .314 average while Mr. Justice had only 140 at-bats with a higher average of .321, pushing the two-year average in Mr. Jeter’s favor.

Other examples of the paradox can be found in all types of data, from air travel delay statistics and medical procedure success statistics, to education and unemployment data.

In the graph below, you can see that although the unemployment rates for each of the separate groups are higher now than they were in 1983, because the size of the group with the lower rate is so much bigger, the overall unemployment rate is lower than it was in 1983.

Confused? Don’t worry about it. The lesson here is to be wary of “hard data,” and remember that statistics can still be spun to fit any argument. This WSJ graph shows that unemployment is both better than in 1983, and worse. It only depends on which point you want to make.

Yankees in 6? October 28, 2009

Posted by dataduchess in Uncategorized.
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We’re in the home stretch here of baseball season with Game One of the World Series later tonight, if it ever stops raining in the Northeast. Baseball is a great sport for fans of physics, data and statistics. WhatIfSports is a site affiliated with Fox Sports on MSN that runs simulations of every and any game you can think of, in all different sports, past and present. They ran a simulation of this World Series, between the Yankees and Phillies, 10,000 times – and Yankees won 72.3% of the time. Those are some good odds.