Statistics: Useful Toolbox for Everyone

I revise my earlier title from “Statistics: Useful Toolbox for the Skeptic” to “Statistics: Useful Toolbox for Everyone.”

Reader Steven D. sent this amazing video to me (via Rebecca), and I like it so much I have to share it with you here.

I guess the challenge with statistics is finding attractive, compelling ways to explain them and put them in context for people. Watch the video below for an incredible example of the “power and beauty of statistics,” as Steven put it.

Statistics Video

Okay, have I convinced you all to go out and study some statistics yet? Well, I’ve at least convinced myself. Time to spend about six hours with my book “Statistical Inference.”


Evelyn is a geologist, writer, traveler, and skeptic residing in Cape Town, South Africa with frequent trips back to the US for work. She has two adorable cats; enjoys hiking, rock climbing, and kayaking; and has a very large rock collection. You can follow her on twitter @GeoEvelyn. She also writes a geology blog called Georneys.

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  1. Sorry that I can’t embed the video– it keeps deleting the html code.

    I fail at technology… again.

    Okay, off to study statistics…

  2. Awesome! It would have made yet another salient point had he done another version using a straight scale rather than logarithmic for the wealth (x) axis. Everyone would have been scrunched way over on the left for a while and then shot over super fast. Also, this is just the last 200 years, when these things actually changed. If he had done all of recorded history with a very fast time scale, there would probably very little movement until the last few seconds.

  3. @B Hitt: Ahh, but the logarithmic scale shows all the countries while allowing us to still see variation in the poorer countries, and as long as you notice it you know that the linear relationship translates into an logarithmic. But yeah, maybe it does lose something for the general audience.

  4. Wow. If only that technology existed when I had to take stats. The course was statisically inconclusive: was the prof’s lectures or the textbook the most boring part?

  5. As an econometrician (which is basically the bastard offspring of an economist and a statistician) I definitely agree that statistics is very important, and help build your sceptical toolkit.

    Also, that graph is one of the great untold stories (or under-told stories) of progress. The world as a whole has grown hugely richer and healthier over the last 200 years. The gap between poor and rich is large, but that’s because some countries have pulled away from what was the norm for the whole of humanity before the 19th Century.

  6. Between the Skeptical Movement, my day job, and my interest in astronomy, I’m seriously thinking of going back to school to study statistics.

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