Monday, February 6, 2012

CEDO 540: Week 1 - Stats 101 (revisited)

I enjoy stats as much as the next guy. How much the next guy enjoys stats would require a little bit of polling and some standard deviations so go figure for yourselves. I've always been leery about the "every 3 seconds another [insert a catastrophic phenomena]" stats you always see. If half of these were true the population of the world would be about 537 right now and there would be exactly 2.468 acres of forest left.

I was ok with the stats class I had way back when. The part I liked most was learning how (true/valid) numbers can be manipulated to tell just about any kind of story you wanted. It was good fuel for my BS detector.

I haven't check out all the materials yet and not quite sure where this course will take us but I'm hoping we get into data driven instruction as that is one area I know nothing about at this time.

I liked Hans Rosling's videos #1 & #2 from the getting hooked on stats suggestions in the course sidebar. I had found Gapminder a while back when I was searching for a topic for some project. The data visualizations are pretty cool to play with. I just downloaded their desktop app but haven't played with it yet. I found a lot of other good sites about data and visualization that I didn't pursue for my project but are in my Diigo bookmarks/tags: datadatasources, and visualization. These may come in handy in this course??? I've also seen/used some nice Google Fusion Tables as well.

So here below is a visualization from It cites 7000 high school dropouts per day. Hmmm .... (continued below)

From Google/US census data, there are about 40 million 10-19 year olds. Now follow some rough calculations with me.
  • 7000 dropouts/day X 180 school days per year = 1,260,000 dropouts per year.
  • 4 years of dropouts = about 5 million = about 12.5% of the 10-20 year old range.
  • Are they really saying about 1 out of 8 students eventually drop out? If this is true then WOW!

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