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Vital statistics

14 Jun, 2013

The Wellcome Trust believes in bringing cutting edge science to the classroom. The latest edition of our Big Picture magazine for students and teachers focuses on making sense of numbers, teaching you how to spot bad statistics, and the importance of understanding risk.

Did you know that over 99 per cent of the population has a greater than average number of legs? It might seem counter-intuitive at first – the average person has two legs after all, so how could that be? The key is remembering how averages are calculated. Since some of the population have fewer than two legs, the average number of legs is lower than two, thus anyone with two legs technically has more than the average.

Mention statistics and you’re likely to either hear a cry of “boring!” or have someone tell you the “84.6 per cent of statistics are made up”, but statistics are an incredibly powerful tool to help us understand the world around us, and the risks inherent in life.

Big Picture statistics

With the rise of “big data” it’s becoming increasingly important to be able to evaluate data sources, methodologies, sample sizes and understand the way that data is presented.

Although statistics might seem daunting, Big Picture: Number Crunching breaks the subject down into bite-size chunks, surrounded by brightly coloured graphics, and fun facts to make you think.

Additional resources online include lesson ideas for teaches and a detective-themed video approach to understanding how to test for correlation using fingerprint patterns in men and women. The video was created with the help of students from Carshalton Boys Sports College and is well worth a watch.


To explore these and more or subscribe to the print edition of Big Picture visit our website


4 Comments leave one →
  1. 14 Jun, 2013 3:33 pm

    Reblogged this on Science on the Land and commented:
    argylesock says… I like this post. And I want to add something to the list of responses that people give when you mention statistics. When I say that I love doing stats, nearly everybody calls me ‘weird’ and announces that they’ve ‘never been any good at sums.’ That might bother me less if it weren’t for the fact that I’m an academic biologist. Science has numbers in it! I’ll post this to the ‘Statistics’ category of my science blog, and I’ll get moving again on writing about this wonderful topic.

  2. lilpunk permalink
    15 Jun, 2013 4:35 am

    Reblogged this on Walking away from everything.

  3. drbausman permalink
    15 Jun, 2013 10:17 am

    Reblogged this on Dr. B. A. Usman's Blog.

  4. cathmor0 permalink
    26 Jul, 2013 10:00 am

    Reblogged this on extension of words.

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