STATISTICS 250 WORDS!

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No  doubt, every day we are exposed to statistics.  They influence nearly  every aspect of our lives.  Unfortunately, often times the statistics  presented to us are incomplete, misleading, or difficult to interpret  meaningfully.  For example, in the MATH110 course that many of you may  have completed, you were asked to compute the cost per mile of operating  your vehicle.  Naturally, that statistic is dependent on a number of  factors including your car payment, maintenance costs, miles driven,  etc.  The important thing to keep in mind when using that statistic is  that there may be situations in which it would be completely misleading  to compare Person A's cost per mile with Person B's cost per mile. For  example, suppose Person A has a monthly car payment of $350 while Person  B has no car payment at all.  No doubt, all other things being equal,  Person A's cost per mile would be higher than Person B's, because of the  monthly car payment that Person A has each month.  Clearly, in this  case, comparing the cost per mile of Person A with that of Person B  would be inappropriate.

As  a second example, we often encounter situations in which advertisers  claim, for example, "You can save 15% by switching to company C."  But,  in such situations no reference is established and the question that  remains unanswered is:  Save 15% compared to what?

Statistics  play a role in nearly every thing that we encounter during our daily  lives.  They help determine what we eat, what we watch on TV, who we  vote for, what colors are used in the fabrics our clothes are made from,  what music we hear, and what movies make it to the big screen. But,  there are times when statistics can be misleading or incomplete.  Please  share with us a statistic that you feel is misleading or confusing. Be  sure to clearly define the statistic you have identified and clearly  articulate why you find it to be misleading or confusing. 

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