Chapter Two

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Chapter Two Introduction

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  After completing chapter one, you have the basics of the COMPARABLE framework. Week Two will introduce you to time-based comparisons, term definition, the art of performing mental experiments, and the many uses of percentages.

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Thinking Hypothetically About Numbers

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This section deals primarily with the following elements of the COMPARABLE framework: M: Do a mental experiment. In the process of writing this book, I’ve come to the conclusion that one of the most important parts of any comparer’s toolkit is hypothetical thinking. Hypothetical thinking comes in many forms, but the key skill is gaining [...]

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Longitudinal vs. Cross-sectional Approaches

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This section deals primarily with the following elements of the COMPARABLE framework: L: Would the comparison benefit from a longitudinal/cross-sectional analysis? B: Were base rates considered? Were relative and absolute increases considered? P: Were the pictorial/graphical representations fair and unbiased? Did they help illustrate the data or were they eye-candy? Note to instructors: We are [...]

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Percentages, the Swiss Army Knife of Comparison

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One of the quickest ways to become a smart consumer of statistics is to translate raw numbers into percentages, and raw increases into percentage gain. Percentages are not just an alternate way to present a statistic. They can give you a broader sense of the relative size of the statistic you are looking at. They [...]

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Activities Following “Percentages, the Swiss Army Knife of Comparison”

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Questions: 1. Rick Santorum, a candidate for the 2012 Republican nomination, claimed that “62 percent of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it.” [Source: http://bit.ly/A77XED] What is being explicitly compared here? Is it a longitudinal or cross-sectional comparison? If 62 percent is the “part”, what is the “whole”? 2. Of [...]