Using data from Wolfram Alpha or some other source, replot the NASA graph here http://ripetungi.com/the-rise-and-fall-of-nasas-budget/ either: 1. Controlling for inflation, 2. Tracking expenditure as a percentage of GDP, or 3. Tracking expenditure as a percentage of government spending. Defend your choice, and note any differences in the shape of the graph that result.
From Marion Nestle’s book on Food Politics: Questions: What is wrong with this graph? In what ways is it deceptive? How would you fix it? What might be a better format?
If you look at this chart, you could be forgiven for thinking where you shop makes you fat. Well, not forgiven, exactly — but look at these huge differences! Less than 5% of Whole Foods shoppers are obese, whereas almost 40% of Albertson’s customers are. So is it something based on what they sell? Nope. [...]
First, read How to Construct a Bogus Survey. Second, consider this poll from The Washington Post’s website. Walk through what would happen if you set up the poll in various different ways. Be ridiculous where it helps. For the moment, ignore issues of non-response and response bias. Name at least one strength and one weakness [...]
Norfolk (VA) and San Francisco (CA) both have approximately the same average temperature (57 degrees Fahrenheit). But that temperature differs month by month. Questions: 1. Looking at the above graphs, which of the two cities has the highest standard deviation in monthly temperature? 2. People generally use heat and cooling technology to keep the [...]
From the NY Times: Ninety-four percent of students who earn a bachelor’s degree borrow to pay for higher education — up from 45 percent in 1993, according to an analysis by The New York Times of the latest data from the Department of Education. This includes loans from the federal government, private lenders and relatives. [...]
Stat Lit Chart of the Day This chart could mean that the more education you get, the more you drink. What is another explanation for the increase in average annual expenditures on alcohol?
The following insight is an old saw of research on statistical intuition by now, but was revolutionary when Kahneman & Tversky came up with it in the early 70s. It is a good explanation of what goes wrong when we think about prediction. As you consider the next question, please assume that Steve was selected [...]
Critical Thinking is about more than intelligence: Even after controlling for differences in cognitive ability, reasoning performance correlated with degree of open-mindedness and epistemic flexibility (cultivating reflectiveness rather than impulsivity, seeking and processing information that disconfirms one’s belief, being willing to change one’s beliefs in the face of contradictory evidence). Further, these dispositions tended to [...]
Example from A Theory-Based Meta-Analysis of Research on Instruction by RJ Marzano: The next two techniques displayed in Table 7.2 employed the information processing function of idea representation. Techniques that provided students with metacognitive strategies for using visual memory had an effect size of 1.04, indicating a percentile gain of 35 points. Presumably, these strategies help [...]
What do you think this bar chart is saying? Is it an effective use of a bar chart? Why or why not? How would you present this data?
From A. N. Whitehead’s An Introduction to Mathematics, some insight into why practice is important: “It is a profoundly erroneous truism, repeated by all copy-books and by eminent people when they are making speeches, that we should cultivate the habit of thinking of what we are doing. The precise opposite is the case. Civilization advances by extending [...]
This is a great walk-through of the issues of sensitivity and specificity in medical test design and interpretation. It is a good supplement to the explanations in this text. Everyone that gets medical tests done or will get medical tests done (which, let’s face it, is everyone) should be familiar with these principles, but it’s often hard [...]
How Visa Predicts Divorce From TDB: Hunch then looks for statistical correlations between the information that all of its users provide, revealing fascinating links between people’s seemingly unrelated preferences. For instance, Hunch has revealed that people who enjoy dancing are more apt to want to buy a Mac, that people who like The Count on [...]
1. Consider the following issue: 17.1. A major controversy has occurred about apparent contradictions in biostatistical data as researchers try to convince Congress to allocate more funds for intramural and extramural investigations supported by the NIH. Citing improved survival rates for conditions such as cervical cancer, breast cancer, and leukemia, clinicians claim we are “winning [...]
When things have a seasonal cycle, it’s often difficult to make direct comparisons. Ideally you compare to last year this time, or the ten year average of this time last year, but what people really want is a sense of how high it will go. This article does a decent job with that — look, [...]
My new favorite term from epidemiology: J-Curve. Distribution matters, even with something as shades-of-grey as risk. For instance, yhere’s a lot of things that increase your mortality in a more-or-less linear way. The more you smoke, the greater your all-cause mortality risk, for example. This isn’t to say you increase your chance of death by [...]
From EnergyStar.gov: Lifecycle impact analyses, like the one shown above, are invaluable tools in making fair comparisons. It’s easy, for example, to get hung up on the small amount of mercury in a CFL bulb, a percentage of which can escape into the environment if the bulb is crushed in a landfill. But the biggest contributor [...]
This is the new story out — it’s a mancovery! From Bloomberg: Men, who lost more than twice as many jobs as women during the worst economic slump since the Great Depression, have landed 88 percent of the non-farm jobs created since the recession ended in June 2009. The share of men saying the economy [...]
In the COMPARABLE framework the “E” is for “Edges”, and part of the “question of edges” is whether there are significant subpopulations. In the case of unemployment of recent college grads, the answer is yes: The center would tell you only that the average unemployment for college grads is about 9%. But the lowest rates [...]
This is an amazing chart — sad in one way, but uplifting in another, because it shows how stats-informed public policy can make a difference. The chart represents the incidence of SIDS (“crib death”) in Norway plotted out against the rise and fall of parents that put their children to sleep on their stomach. (Which [...]
As we say in the COMPARABLE checklist, the story is often somewhere in the edges. Take this chart of the proportion of a food dollar which goes to the farmer vs. post-farm activities. At first it seems to show declining farm revenue as the the market bill (which includes everything from transportation to preparation) climbs: [...]
In medicine, researchers often rely on surrogate outcomes (also called surrogate endpoints). Take, for example, something like heart health. We know that a good ratio of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol is a predictor of heart health and increased longevity. So we come up with a pill that changes that ratio for the better. And [...]
Focused question: While “surrogate outcomes” and “clinical outcomes” are terms generally used in medicine, the same concept can be applied to a wide range of disciplines. Come up with the equivalent of a “surrogate outcome” and its corresponding “clinically meaningful outcome” for each of the following disciplines: Education Economics/Economy Politics
The following graph is from Architect Magazine. The caption reads: “The construction boom of the 2000s often cited as the reason for the boom in housing prices doesn’t break precedent—or break records. At a time when U.S. population growth was slower, the 1970s saw two housing booms that produced more housing starts than the 2000s. The high [...]
Read the following comparison: Consumers now owe more on their student loans than their credit cards. Americans owe some $826.5 billion in revolving credit, according to June 2010 figures from the Federal Reserve. (Most of revolving credit is credit-card debt.) Student loans outstanding today — both federal and private — total some $829.785 billion, according to Mark [...]
Dream Act rally in Washington, D.C. From the June 9 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor: CARLSON: So, at University of California schools – just to get this in. O’REILLY: Right. CARLSON: In 2009, about 35 percent of the in-state tuition people or students were illegals. O’REILLY: Really? That’s an interesting stat, Carlson. [Fox News, The [...]
Politicians and media use the terms “bipartisan” and “landslide” all the time. But what do they mean? In this activity you will try to come up with a working, operationalized definition of these terms. 1. Research the use and definitions of these terms. Look at multiple sources. 2. For “bipartisan” find a use that shows [...]
The hourly compensation of a typical worker grew in tandem with productivity from 1948–1973. That can be seen in Figure A, which presents both the cumulative growth in productivity per hour worked of the total economy (inclusive of the private sector, government, and nonprofit sector) since 1948 and the cumulative growth in inflation-adjusted hourly compensation for private-sector [...]
Read this: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/01/us-mammograms-risks-idUSBRE84010B20120501 Explain how it can be good for high-risk women to get mammograms, but bad for low-risk women to.
We are interested in how music purchasing behavior has shifted over the recent past. What are the strengths and weaknesses of each graph in helping us understand that? Make sure to specify what each graph controls for. From Jailbreaking the Degree: From Evolver.fm:
From Promoting Oral Health:The Use of Salt Fluoridation to Prevent Dental Caries by Saskia Estupiñán-Day. This chart shows the incidence of decayed, missing, and filled teeth in children in a town that used fluoridation against a set of control towns that did not. 1. For the purposes of this graph, how was “fluoridation” defined? 2. Would this [...]
The settler Thomas Austin released 24 wild rabbits on his Australian farm, called Barwon Park, in 1859, and some other Australian farmers later followed his example. Rabbits are sexually mature at about six months, and they have a 31-day gestation period. Given a favorable environment, rabbits can easily increase their population fourfold in a year. [...]
Read the following excerpt from Fat Economics: 1. What is the prevalence of obesity among American children (ages 6 to 13)? 2. What is the prevalence of obesity among Italian children (ages 6 to 13)?
The final Harry Potter film made $1,328,111,219 in 2011. The final Lord of the Rings film made $1,119,929,521 in 2003. Use WolframAlpha to adjust these figures for inflation. Which film had the higher gross, adjusted for inflation?
From Nathan Yau’s Visualize This. This is a great graphic, and as Yau points out in his book it does everything right. It answers a simple question. It annotates what needs to be annotated, and rather than clutter the graph up with reference lines it tries to indicate broad trends in a graceful, uncluttered way. [...]
1. What is the whole of this graph? 2. Assume in Q1 2011 that approximately 8% of people were unemployed by the measure this graph uses. According to the graph, what percentage of people in America have been unemployed 52 weeks or more?
The graph above shows salaries of 2006 graduates of law school as measured in 2007. 1. The study did not include people out of work. How might the graph shape change if it included people out of work? Would the median salary be lower or higher? 2. Look up the term “bimodal distribution”. Does this [...]
Some people say that we couldn’t have known there was a real estate bubble. But quite a few economists pointed out well before the crash that the “price/rent” ratio — that is, the average cost of owning a house/apartment divided by the average cost of renting — was well outside of historical norms. This led economist [...]
Here are the long term trends in support for same-sex marriage, as pulled from a recent Gallup poll: Questions: 1. The graph shows an increase in support using 1996 as a baseline year. What year would you have to use as a baseline year to show a decrease in support for gay marriage. Draw a [...]
Game of Thrones, Season 2 is getting illegally downloaded. A lot. In fact, it’s on track to be the most pirated show of 2012, and maybe 2011 as well: Maybe that’s interesting to you, maybe not. Here’s what’s interesting to me: notice the horizontal axis of the graph. What this represents is number of days [...]
Via http://dailyinfographic.com/ : Questions: 1. “For every 100 single women in their 20s, there are 120 single men” — If this is true, what else might be true? Explain some ways this pattern could occur. Make sure to double check your hypothesis by running a small mental experiment. 2. Come up with an more outlandish theory for [...]
Via http://dailyinfographic.com/ Questions: 1. On average, how many drowning deaths were there in bathtubs, pools, and hot tubs in August? 2. The graphic states that 71% of deaths occurred in May, June, July, and August. If deaths were equally distributed throughout the year, what amount of deaths would we expect in these months instead? 3. Compute [...]
From http://dailyinfographic.com: Questions: “CTR” is “Click-through rate”, and it represents the percentage of people that see a given ad that actually click on it. 1. Assume the figure they cite is correct. 100,000 people see a Facebook ad. How many click the ad? 2. Assume the figure they cite is correct. 100,000 people see a [...]
From http://dailyinfographic.com: 1. Look at the list of top states. What is not accounted for that should be? 2. There were 1.4 million DUI arrests in 2010. There were 310 million people in the U.S. in 2010. 1.4 / 310 = .0045, or about 4.5 out of 1,000. Does this mean 4.5 out of 1,000 [...]
Via dailyinfographic.com Questions: 1. How many employees do you have to have under to be called a “small business”? 2. What qualifies as a small business? If I sell things ocassionally on Amazon.com or Etsy, is that a small business? If am the CEO of Walmart, but create a small one person company to invest [...]
Via dailyinfographic.com: 1. Where is the information from? Can you find any of the source statistics? 2. Two children are born into a family two years apart. All other things being equal who is more likely to be an entrepreneur — the first-born or second-born child? [Note: as with all questions, you can say we [...]
Questions: 1. List all comparisons you can find on this infographic, including part-whole comparisons. Remember to clearly define the comparison groups and units of measurement. 2. Pick one of the listed comparisons and subject it to a COMPARABLE analysis.
1. What percentage of oral cancer patients are men? 2. Who put this infographic together? 3. How many men died in 2010 of HPV-related oral cancer? 4. Who is more at risk for oral cancer, a smoker, or a man who has had six oral sex partners? 5. If you have extra time, discuss as [...]
Apply the COMPARABLE checklist to the comparison “How much of a rule does UGC play in your purchasing decisions?” What are some strengths of the comparison? What might be a better comparison?L Look up the source of the infographic. How might the interests of the producer of the graphic affect the presentation of the information?
What are the sources of this information? Who put the infographic together? In what way are the comparisons inadequate? Look at the scale of the graphic. What do the lengths mean?
Via http://www.flickr.com/photos/gdsdigital/4963409391/sizes/o/in/photostream/ Click on the graphic to enlarge. IN this graphic, the association is made that the more people were laid off at a company, the bigger the salary. That seems like we are rewarding incompetence! What might be a confounding factor? What should be taken into account to fix the comparison? Hint: ptgaeocfiszeoynmtp If such [...]
Via vizworld: 1. Wii Sports is sold with every Wii, whereas a variety of different games are often packaged with Xbox and Playstation. How does this affect the list of top titles? 2. If you are a gamer, are you more like to be under 18 or 18-49? 3. If you are 18-49, are you [...]
Questions: 1. If approximately 250 marriages a day represents 2% of marriages, how many people in America get married each day? 2. If this mean of the age data was 48 years old, and the median was 36 years old, would you use the mean or the median? 3. What percentage of online dating users [...]
From http://www.gobankingrates.com/banking/broke-banks-and-credit-union-catastrophes/: 1. Use the Junk Charts Trifecta to evaluate this graphic: a. What issue does this graphic address? What questions does it try to answer? b. What does the chart say? c. What does the data say? 2. What information would you need to better evaluate these charts? How might you alter the measures [...]
Look at the infographic here: Carbon FootPrint [LARGE VERSION] Questions: 0. Junk Charts Trifecta: What issue is the chart addressing? What does the chart say? What does the data say? (Are they in alignment?) 1. Who is the biggest polluter in raw terms? 2. Who is the biggest polluter per capita? 3. In understanding which [...]
From http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4543/14-MindBlowing-Facts-About-Sugar-Infographic.html First, a comment — note how nicely their sources are laid out. You don’t know what goes to what, but at least you have a starting point. Now, questions: 1. Source: Who is OnlineSchools? What’s their stake in this issue? Did they collect the data, or did someone else? 2. Look at comparison [...]
Did overbuilding houses lead to the recession? Matthew Yglesias shows this graph to demonstrate that overbuilding wasn’t the problem: He explains: On the general subject of recession myths, here’s another statistical look at the myth that the speculative boom in land prices led to some kind of crazy amount of overinvestment in houses. What we [...]
1. Make an exhaustive list of both part-whole comparisons and inter-group comparisons being made here. 2. How are the wholes defined? How are the parts? 3. This is an image, so the links are not clickable. But try and find some of the sources the infographic cites, and list the full names of the studies [...]
A chart of the growth of Draw Something, a game played on smartphones and tablets: Question: Is this growth linear or non-linear? Defend your answer.
Here’s a *Based on price of small draft beer. Data from 2011 survey. 1. Are there any problems of definition here? 2. What are some things you might want to take into account when comparing beer prices in these ballparks?
The COMPARABLE Checklist (suitable for printing!). This checklist can be applied to any numerical comparison, although not all items apply to every comparison. This is an abbreviated version of the checklist; the chapters of the text describe these elements in more detail. C: Were appropriate comparison groups picked? Was like compared to like? O: Were the [...]
1. Name three things this graph tells you. Deal with the significance of the standard deviation if possible. 2. Name three things it doesn’t. 3. Apply at least one aspect of the COMPARABLE framework to it explicitly.
1. Name three things this graph tells you and three things this graph does NOT tell you. A) The first chart shows the distribution of the ice at two times in the past year. B) The first chart does NOT necessarily show long term shrinkage of the ice caps, what is being demonstrated here is the [...]
This tells us: In general, younger people check cell phones in a wider array of situations More people check their phone in bed than do in houses of worship One place where middle-aged people check their phones more than other demographics is at meals with others. It does not tell us: Margin of error. We [...]
From a news story: “Caffeine has a half-life of ~5 hours, meaning that after 5 hours, half of the caffeine you ingested has been metabolized; after 10 hours, 1/4 of the caffeine is still there –hence potential for a sleepless night if consumed too late in the day.” Question: This is an example of decay, [...]
You walk into a Starbucks and see two deals for a cup of coffee. The first deal offers 33% extra coffee. The second takes 33% off the regular price. What’s the better deal? 1) 33% off! 2) 33% extra! 3) They are the same Remember: If not sure, DO A MENTAL EXPERIMENT. Plug in some [...]
From Forbes: Bringing Up Bebe? No Thanks. I’d Rather Raise a Billionaire Quick: Name a French billionaire. Now name one who is self-made. A bit harder, non? According to the Forbes World’s Billionaires List, published today, France has sixteen billionaires. The U.S. boasts far more: 425. And a great number of those American billionaires, from Bill Gates (No. [...]
Imagine two states starting from zero prisoners. State #1 puts in place policies that result in 1,000 people being arrested per year, and being sentenced to 5 year terms. State #2 puts in place policies that result in 5,000 people per year and being sentenced to six months terms. Which state has the most prisoners [...]
This is a Soviet infographic on agricultural production from 1961-1980. “Translate” it, taking guesses where possible, making stuff up where not.
1. In this list of good and bad cities for your skin, some cities are included based on inputs (physical activity, access to health care) and some are based on outcomes (actual incidence of disease). Categorize all the criteria as either an input or an outcome. 2. Which of the measures are based on continuous [...]
From FT.com At times of stress, we know that China’s GDP numbers can appear a little weird. In late 2008, we recommended a number of growth proxies to watch in case the GDP numbers became less reliable, including electricity production, freight traffic, and production of key industrial goods. All of these proxies suggested a deeper downturn [...]
Read the following poll results, then answer the questions. This is a poll that asks people how likely they are to vote in the 2012 election. 1. What is the cut-point for “Intends to vote”. How does it effect the results? How might changing the cut point change the results? 2a. This compares intent to [...]
After nutritional labeling went into effect in New York City, a large sample of people were polled about how the label affected their behavior — 27% reported the new labels influenced their behavior, and 10% of people reported purchasing fewer calories as a result. However, when researchers looked at the average amount of calories purchased [...]
Morton’s findings, published in his Crania Americana (1839) and Crania Aegyptiaca (1844), were enormously influential in appearing to demonstrate, by means of his system, that there was a clear hierarchy in brain size between different peoples. At the top of his scheme was the European, followed by the American Indian, and then the African, just one short step above [...]
Read the post, “Keeping_gameday_trash_out_of_the_landfill.” During the three recent football games listed (Iowa v. Cent. Michigan, Iowa v. Northern Iowa, and Iowa v. Iowa State) what was the percentage of food waste for compost of the total waste for each game? The article touts a nearly 60% recycling/composting rate following the Iowa vs. Northern Iowa game. [...]