Chance News 73

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From The Flaw of Averages, by Sam L. Savage, Wiley, 2009:

“Our culture encodes a strong bias either to neglect or ignore variation. We tend to focus instead on measures of central tendency, and as a result we make some terrible mistakes, often with considerable practical import.”

Stephen Jay Gould, cited on p. 11

“Plans based on average assumptions are wrong on average.”

Savage, p. 11

“Far better an approximate answer to the right question, which is often vague, than the exact answer to the wrong question, which can always be made precise.”

John W. Tukey, cited, p. 38

“I have found that teaching probability and statistics is easy. The hard part is getting people to learn the stuff.”

Savage, p. 49

“Statisticians often describe a numerical uncertainty using the Red Words, RANDOM VARIABLE, but I will stick with ‘uncertain number.’ …. [S]top thinking of uncertainties as single numbers and begin thinking of them as shapes, or distributions. …. If you think of an uncertain number as a bar graph, you will not be seriously misled.”

Savage, p. 59ff

“When Max Henrion [CEO at Lumina Decision Systems and adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon] studied physics as an undergraduate at Cambridge University, he reports ‘My professors drummed into me that any number is worthless unless you report the uncertainty attached to it.’ Then as a PhD student in policy analysis at Carnegie Mellon in the 1970s he noticed that ‘analysts in public policy and business usually ignored that principal – even though their numbers were generally many orders of magnitude more uncertain than the physicists’."

Savage, p. 339

“Joe Berkson, a statistician at the Mayo Clinic, developed his own criterion, which he termed the IOT Test, or Inter Ocular Trauma Test, requiring a graph that hit you between the eyes.”

Savage, p. 325

See Chance News 52[1] for Laurie Snell’s review of The Flaw of Averages .

Submitted by Margaret Cibes


What's in a name?

Peter, Deborah popular names for CEOs
VPR News Morning Edition, 29 April 2011

"If your name is Peter or Deborah, you're more likely to be a CEO. That's what the social networking site LinkedIn found." You can listen to the rest of this Vermont Public Radio broadcast here.

To be continued...

Submitted by Jeanne Albert

Item 2