Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data

Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data


“Brilliant, funny . . . the best math teacher you never had.”―San Francisco Chronicle Once considered tedious, the field of statistics is rapidly evolving into a discipline Hal Varian, chief economist at Google, has actually called “sexy.” From batting averages and political polls to game shows and medical research, the real-world application of statistics continues to grow by leaps and bounds. How can we catch schools that cheat on standardized tests? How does Netflix know which movies you’l…

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What “top 1% club” do you think you belong to?(r/AskReddit)

So the mean female height is, I believe, 64 inches with a standard deviation of 3 inches. This puts you right at the 4th standard deviation. 99.994% of people are inside the first 4 standard deviations, so you’re actually in the top 0.003% for women (half are below and half are above).

If you include men (mean 70 inches and standard deviation 3 inches), you’re right at the 3rd standard deviation, so that puts you in the top 0.15% for all humans.

Edit: If anyone is interested in a very entertaining but also educational book on statistics, I highly recommend Naked Statistics by Charles Wheelan.

Edit: Since this has apparently hurt the feelings of several people who like being pedantic, I’ll explain. The above assumes human heights are normally distributed. This is somewhat true for women and men individually. As /u/bbartlog pointed out here, it’s not completely true, because there are more cases of very short and very tall people than a perfectly normal distribution assumes (the “fat tails”). Now, for the group of all humans, the normal distribution assumption is even worse, because the distribution is bimodal (it has 2 humps: one for the average male height and one for the average female height). However, we do actually have data that does a decent job of supporting what I’ve said above. Regardless, there is absolutely no doubt that /u/Kate2point718 can claim to be in the top 1% of heights for all women, and she probably can’t quite make that claim for all of the human population.

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Charles Wheelan

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W. W. Norton & Company

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Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data

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What “top 1% club” do you think you belong to?

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