NOV 9, 2010 10:27am ET

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The Flaw of Averages – Part 1, the Problem

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The metaphor for the theme of the entertaining book, “The Flaw of Averages,” by Sam Savage, is a drunk attempting to cross a dangerous highway. The state of the drunk at his average position (i.e. the center line) is alive. However the average state of the drunk, wherever he is on the road at a given point of measurement, is dead! The dead drunk embodies Savage's Strong Form of the Flaw of Averages.

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Comments (4)
Steve,

Thanks for one of the clearest and most cogent reviews of The Flaw of Averages to date. If you found parts if annoying to read, imagine how annoying it was to write.

Best,

Sam

Posted by Sam S | Wednesday, November 10 2010 at 1:04AM ET
fun and fascinating stuff - in a time when it is so easy to look at distributions and not just measures of central tendency it's quite astounding that it's not standard practice - but then, trying to get most decision-makers to focus on any more than 1 or 2 simple stats is the real challenge -

"No catalogue of techniques can convey a willingness to look for what can be seen, whether or not anticipated. Yet this is at the heart of exploratory data analysis. The graph paper - and transparencies - are there, not as a technique, but rather as recognition that the picture-examining eye is the best finder we have of the wholly unanticipated." - John Tukey

Posted by Charles P | Wednesday, November 10 2010 at 12:05PM ET
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