In This Chapter
Today's society is completely taken over by numbers. Numbers are everywhere you look, from billboards showing the on-time statistics for a particular airline, to sports shows discussing the Las Vegas odds for upcoming football games. The evening news is filled with stories focusing on crime rates, the expected life span of junk-food junkies, and the president's approval rating. On a normal day, you can run into 5, 10, or even 20 different statistics (with many more on election night). Just by reading a Sunday newspaper all the way through, you come across literally hundreds of statistics in reports, advertisements, and articles covering everything from soup (how much does an average person consume per year?) to nuts (almonds are known to have positive health effects — what about other types of nuts?).
In this chapter I discuss the statistics that often appear in your life and work and talk about how statistics are presented to the general public. After reading this chapter, you'll realize just how often the media hits you with numbers and how important it is to be able to unravel the meaning of those numbers. Like it or not, statistics are a big part of your life. So, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. And if you don't want to join 'em, at least try to understand 'em.