What Are the Chances?

Musings on everyday probability

Simpson's Paradox

April 29, 2013 By Alan J. Salzberg
A North Slope real estate broker (named North) is trying to convince you that North Slope is a more affluent neighborhood than South Slope.  To prove it, he explains that professionals in North Slope...

The Worst Graph

November 12, 2012 By Alan J. Salzberg
One reason for quotes like there are "there are lies, damn lies, and statistics" is because of graphs like these:  

Election Polls

September 21, 2012 By Alan J. Salzberg
With the upcoming election, I have been following my favorite prediction site: electoral-vote.com.  That site has a big map showing current predictions state-b...

Born to Run?

November 11, 2011 By Alan J. Salzberg
About a year ago, I read a book called "Born to Run," by Christopher McDougall, who last week wrote

Detecting cheating

March 30, 2011 By Alan J. Salzberg
In my professional work, I like being the statistical sleuth, trying to figure out whether a person or company cheated, and how much they cheated. Thus it was with a lot of interest that I read a rece...

Throw away your cold medicine again?

September 28, 2010 By Alan J. Salzberg
A couple years ago, I wrote about a study that looked at the effect of a seawater nasal spray on the health of children (see

You asked for it, you got it. Toyota!

March 15, 2010 By Alan J. Salzberg
I think that's how the ad line went. When? maybe 25 years ago.   Well, it seems to apply now. Sudden acceleration. Mention a problem with a car, any problem with any car, and pe...

More germs = less disease?

December 9, 2009 By Alan J. Salzberg
So says an article in today's Science Daily, which reports on a recent study at Northwestern of children from the Philippine...

Why Swine Flu is not a bunch of hogwash

October 29, 2009 By Alan J. Salzberg
This updates my previous blog: "Why Swine flu is a bunch of hogwash?"   Thing...

Redskins are lucky to play bad teams, but how lucky?

October 15, 2009 By Alan J. Salzberg
A recent article in Yahoo Sports pointed out that the Washington Red...

Unemployment down but joblessness is up?

August 12, 2009 By Alan J. Salzberg
There was a bit of interesting news that came out Friday--the nations unemployment rate actually declined, from 9.5% to 9.4%. This is true despite the fact that there was a net loss of jobs of 247,00...

Riding a bike? Wear a helmet.

June 12, 2009 By Alan J. Salzberg
Now that the sun has finally come out in NYC today after what seems like weeks of rain and cold weather, it seems an appropriate time to talk about one of my favorite summer recreational activities--r...

Why Swine Flu is a bunch of hogwash.

May 18, 2009 By Alan J. Salzberg
I first thought of writing about this a couple of weeks ago, when the nationwide hysteria concerning swine flu was just beginning, but then, as quickly as it came, it went. Now, with the first death...

Facebook and grades

April 28, 2009 By Alan J. Salzberg
I don't have a long post for today, but I want to briefly discuss the discussion of a study on Facebook and grades. It was the subject of the Wall Street Journal's Numbers Guy blog last week:

How big a sample?

March 23, 2009 By Alan J. Salzberg
Suppose we want to figure out what percentage of BIGbank's 1,000,000 loans are bad. We also want to look at smallbank, with 100,000 loans. Many people seem to think you'd need to look at...