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Statistics in the News

Page history last edited by Jessica Hartnett 7 years, 6 months ago Saved with comment

Main -> In the News: Statistics

Hall vs. Florida: IQ, the death penalty, and margin of error (via notawfulandboring.blogspot.com)


This blog post summarizes Hall vs. Florida, a US Supreme Court case based whether or not it is reasonable to have hard cut-off points for IQ tests when those tests have margins of error. Specifically, this case tests those cut-off points in a death penalty case in Florida.


Correlation, causation, and a suicidal link with coffee (courtesy of Sue Frantz via Twitter)

"This [Harvard Gazette] article is one of the few reports to explicitly state that coffee seems to cause (“Drinking several cups of coffee daily appears to reduce”) a life-or-death effect in people who drink it." The article could be used to introduce the nature of correlational research.


For a Long and Healthy Life, It Matters Where You Live (courtesy of Sue Frantz via Twitter)

"Maps in the new analysis, done by the National Center for Health Statistics, show Americans' healthy life expectancy after 65 is lowest in the South. But males in the Midwest, Texas and North Dakota don't do so well either. The Northeast, Florida, Upper Plains states and the West have more healthy seniors.The analysis can't say why states vary so much." The article could be used to discuss research approaches, correlational research, holding variables constant, the nature of regression, and so on.


One Thing We Know About Autism: Vaccines Aren't to Blame (courtesy of Sue Frantz via Twitter)

"It all started with bad science. The now-debunked theory that autism is caused by the common immunizations nearly all children receive beginning in infancy began with a fabricated piece of research, a 1998 study published -- and later retracted -- in the journal Lancet. In 2010, Great Britain stripped Andrew Wakefield, lead author of the study, of his medical license. An investigation had deemed his research an elaborate fraud. But in those dozen years, fear of lifesaving immunizations took hold of millions of parents. Jenny McCarthy—former Playmate of the year, model, actress, and soon-to-be cohost of the television show The View—fueled parental fears." This column in National Geographic could be used to introduce the topic and provide some of the history behind the vaccines-autism discussion. Then, an article such as Gerber and Offit (2009), found here, could provide more in-depth coverage of the (alleged) relationship between the combination measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. Another, more critical, take on the vaccines-autism discussion can be found in the New Yorker here


Does kindergarten lead to crime? (Jennifer Wilmetti via AP Psych listserv).

"In general, the towns with a kindergarten have 400 percent more crime than other towns in the same county. In every county, the towns and cities with kindergarten had more crime." Useful for correlation versus causation 


Franz H. Messerli's "Chocolate consumption, cognitive function, and Nobel Laureates" (via notawfulandboring.blogspot.com)

Messerli's study found a strong and positive correlation between a nation's per capita chocolate consumption and the number of Nobel prizes won by that nation (see graph below). The research article is a pretty straight forward: The only statistical analysis conducted was a correlation, the journal article is very short, and it used archival data. As such, you can use this example to illustrate correlation and archival data as well as the dread "third variable" problem (by asking students to generate variables that may increase chocolate consumption as well as top-notch research/writing/peace/etc.).


Bloomberg Statistics/Data Scandal (via notawfulandboring.blogspot.com)

Bloomberg (financial service/news organization) provides its clients with lots of data about world finances...and then monitored how its clients used that data...then used that data to write news stories. And really, really made their clients angry. A good way of demonstrating the power of data to statistics students.


Statistics and Pennsylvania's Voter ID Law (via notawfulandboring.blogspot.com)

Read up on how statisticians are being used to determine whether or not Pennsylvania's voter ID law is disenfranchising the poor and elderly.  

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