Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

Someone wrote…

You don’t really have to understand math to know why this sucks:

My statistics homework recently asked this multiple choice question:

“Does the given procedure result in a binomial distribution?: Recording the genders of 150 people in a statistics class”

A. Yes
C. No, because there are more than two possible outcomes.
(B and D don’t matter)

The question is, do I go against the whole of who I am and answer A “correctly,” or do I answer C, forfeiting a good grade, and knowing that the teacher won’t pick up on the point?

What’s your experience?

And what are you thinking about gender right now?

Posted by on October 17th, 2014 at 08:00 am

Category: your voice 6 comments »

6 Responses to “Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics”

  1. fluffy

    Answer C, and then challenge the grading when you get it back.


  2. Alex

    Answer A, and explain that there was indeed only 2 given choices t the respondant, despite it is not representative of the reality.

    And yeah, maths are mostly binary. But it doesn’t mean the world is.


  3. Anonymous

    Well the answer is obviously C, there is of course a nonzero probability that that question was included to demonstrate why you have to be careful to avoid bad experiment design.


  4. Jesse

    It depends on why you are taking this class and what you think you place in the world is, or should be. Are you taking the class to pass it? If so, then your job is to give the “correct” answer, that is the question that will be marked correct, irregardless of truth.

    If you are an evangelist who is charged with enlightening others and bringing them to truth, then you have a responsibility to speak truth.

    Your choice. Which will make a better world for other people? Will your failing this question teach anyone anything?

    I first did this exercise when I was 12, when I came across the question “Happiness is to success as….” in an IQ test. I argued the point and got a lower IQ score. I was 12 and very sure I was right.


  5. shaed

    Why I haven’t been to my stats class all semester.


  6. Anonymous

    Math is about thinking from assumptions. Where it is unclear what assumption one should be working from, make them explicit.

    So I would basically answered this:

    If we assume that there can be more than two genders the anser is B.
    However, if we assume that there are only two genders that there are only two genders then the answer is is A.


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