Author Takes on Flaws of Statistics

Susan Hall

The New York Times recently posed statistics as the hot, up-and-coming field for jobs.


Now The San Jose Mercury News has an entertaining -- yes, entertaining -- interview with Sam Savage, a consulting professor of management science and engineering at Stanford University and a fellow at the Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge. His book "The Flaw of Averages" takes on what he calls the "steam-era statistics" of the Industrial Age.


He says some things you might expect, in how statistics relates to business:

A blizzard is a good analogy. If you focus on the individual snowflakes, you'll go nuts. It takes statistical thinking to make out what the storm is doing as a whole.

It sounds like business intelligence, doesn't it?


He explains why if you and your spouse generally are on time, as a couple you'll be late, on average. Then there's the question posed to him about statisticians' pickup lines. Yes, entertaining.

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