Category Archives: Fun with Statistics

Baseball Humor

One of the things I like about the Milwaukee Brewers is that they have a healthy sense of humor. Here, relief pitcher Tim Dillard hijacks an ESPN microphone and does a spot-on impression of stat-obsessed journalist Tim Kurkjian (click here if the embedded video doesn’t work):

One Measure of Progress

This quote from friend-of-CEI Matt Ridley is too good not to share. Something to be thankful for on Thanksgiving:

Ask how much artificial light you can earn with an hour of work at the average wage. The amount has increased from 24 lumen-hours in 1750 BC (sesame oil lamp) to 186 in 1800 (tallow candle) to 4,400 in 1880 (kerosene lamp) to 531,000 in 1950 (incandescent light bulb) to 8.4 million lumen-hours today (compact fluorescent bulb). Put it another way, an hour of work today earns you 300 days’ worth of reading light; an hour of work in 1800 earned you ten minutes of reading light.

Matt Ridley, The Rational Optimist, p. 20.

CEI Podcast for October 27, 2011: How Much Do Undocumented Immigrants Cost?

Have a listen here.

A widely cited study from the Federation for American Immigration Reform claims that undocumented immigrants cost taxpayers $113 billion per year. Policy Analyst Alex Nowrasteh, author of the new CEI Web Memo “A FAIR Criticism: A Critique of the Federation for American Immigration Reform’s ‘The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on United States Taxpayers.'” finds that the study counts costs but ignores benefits, uses shoddy data, and is harmful to the ongoing immigration debate.

From Poor and Sick to Healthy and Rich

Via Russ Roberts, this is an amazing video. I’m always impressed with creative, compelling ways to use data to tell a story. And this story is one of the most important in human history: how most of humanity went from being poor and sick to healthy and rich in just 200 years.

There is still a ways to go. But if past is prologue, I’m optimistic about the future.

Interesting Correlation

Via Business Insider.

According to this graph, the higher the percentage of a country’s males aged 25-34 live with their parents, the higher that country’s sovereign debt. Remember, though — correlation does not equal causation.

For one, this graph lists 11 Eurozone countries. But that’s out of a total of 25 Eurozone countries. Was there a reason the other 14 were left out? Maybe they fit the trend. Maybe they don’t. But since they aren’t there, we don’t know.

Even so, surely for some people, living with their parents for so long is caused by a lack of ambition and initiative. Those are two key ingredients for entrepreneurship and growth, which are important debt reducers. And a lack of them could be one cause of higher social spending, which increases debts.

The story this graph tells makes intuitive sense. But one wonders how much it matters compared to the many other factors in play.

How to Lie with Statistics

Steven Landsburg uncovers a whopper. Take a look at this graph for a second. Pay special attention to the right-hand y-axis. Then click on over to Landsburg’s blog post to find out what’s wrong with it.

Misleading Statistics

Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson won an executive-of-the-year award today.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Greg Bedard asks if it is a kiss of death for the team.

Let’s leave aside the fact that the award has no cause-and-effect relationship on the outcome of football games.

Bedard writes that in the year after winning the award, “Only four times in those 13 years did the executives win the Lombardi Trophy.”

There are 32 teams in the NFL. Only one of them can win the Super Bowl. That’s a 1-in-32 shot.

Call me crazy, but 4-in-13 actually sounds pretty good.