The War On Math

Dwight D. Eisenhower photo portrait.

Dwight D. Eisenhower photo portrait. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The story goes that President Eisenhower was shocked to learn that half of all Americans were of below average intelligence. True or not, this humorously illustrates the pitfall of statistics for the unwary.

I just read another of those articles stating how much more the average college graduate earns than the average high school graduate. Whoa! Wouldn’t the average for college graduates be pulled up by many graduates entering well paid professions like law, medicine, or engineering? And, if you are majoring in something else, what does that have to do with you? A far more informative statistic would be to compare medians rather than averages, but even that requires careful handling.

In this political season, politicians are given to quoting a lot of facts, figures, and statistics. Beware – the numbers often don’t mean what they seem to mean, even when they’re true. The Dems accuse the GOP of a “War on Women” while the GOP accuses the Dems of a “War on Jobs”, but, from where I sit, both parties are waging a War on Math.

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