Widespread statistical illiteracy ... is cause for
immediate concern
Charles Murray

2008 2008            01/25/14

Authors Popular StatLit News Authors-Academic Statistical Literacy Numeracy Statistical Reasoning

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 StatLit News in 2008

Solid Growth in 2008:

  • NNN's launches a new e-journal: Numeracy.  Proponents of numeracy across the curriculum now have their own peer-reviewed journal.

  • Grant funding continues: over $2 million for numeracy-related projects.

  • StatLit.org 2008 traffic up 20% on visits, 60% on downloads and 65% on referrals: 101,000 visits, 102,000 downloads and 18,000 referrals.

Top New Books
  • StatSpotting: Joel Best

  • Just Plain Data Analysis: Gary Klass

  • Calculation vs. Context: Edited by B. Madison and L. Steen

  • Know Your Chances: Understanding Health Statistics: Steven Woloshin and Lisa Schwartz

  • Government Statistical Offices & Statistical Literacy: Juana Sanchez, Ed.

  • The Cult of Statistical Significance: McCloskey and Ziliak


Numeracy: E-Journal

Numeracy is an open-access, peer-reviewed journal launched in 2008.  Numeracy aims to support education at all levels that integrates quantitative skills across disciplines. The journal seeks evidence-based articles. See Vacher's NECQL and PKAL presentations.

Numeracy Editors

Len Vacher (left) and Dorothy Wallace (right) are editors of Numeracy: Advancing Education in Quantitative Literacy.   Numeracy is published by the National Numeracy Network, supported by the U. of S. Florida Libraries and hosted by the Berkeley Electronic Press™.

2008 Volume 1: Issue 1 << All Papers

2008 Volume 1: Issue 2 << All Papers



Joel Best's Stat-Spotting: A Field Guide to Identifying Dubious Data is a "field guide to identifying dubious data." "It lists common problems found in the sorts of numbers that appear in news stories and illustrates each problem with an example.  This guide tries to organize them around a set of practical questions you might ask when encountering a new statistic."

Calculation vs. Context

Quantitative Literacy and Its' Implications for Teacher Education.  Ed.: Bernie Madison and Lynn Steen. Articles by Richard Shavelson. Robert Orrill, Neil Lutsky, Milo Schield, Alan Tucker, Corrine Taylor, Joel Best, Hugh Burckhardt and Frank Murray.  Contents available online.  To buy, search MAA bookstore under Quantitative Literacy or Teaching & Education.

Just Plain Data Analysis

By Gary Klass (2008, 186 pgs $22pb) Just Plain Data Analysis: Finding, Presenting, and Interpreting Social Science Data. "Teaches students statistical literacy skills used to evaluate and construct arguments about public affairs grounded in numerical evidence. These practical skills involve finding, presenting, and interpreting commonly used social indicators..."

Cult of Statistical Significance

By McCloskey and Ziliak (2008, 352 pgs, $17). The Cult of Statistical Significance: How the Standard Error Costs Us Jobs, Justice, and Lives (Economics, Cognition, and Society)   "The quest for statistical significance ... is a deeply flawed substitute for thoughtful analysis. . . . Yet few participants...  have been willing to admit ... that the emperor has no clothes.”

Why Research Can't Guarantee

by Ronald R. Gauch (298 pgs 2008hc, $60).  It's Great! Oops, No It Isn't: Why Clinical Research Can't Guarantee The Right Medical Answers "dissects medical research methodology and ... explains why correct answers are so hard to achieve." Shows why "medical researchers can never be sure that they’ve ended up with a truthful answer."

Statistical Misconceptions

By Schuyler Huck (2008, 300p). Statistical Misconceptions "helps readers identify and...discard 52 misconceptions about data and statistical summaries. The focus is on major concepts contained in typical undergraduate and graduate courses in statistics, research methods, or quantitative analysis. Fun interactive ... exercises ... are found on the book's website."

Develop Statistical Reasoning

By Joan B. Garfield and Dani Ben-Zvi: Developing Students Statistical Reasoning: Connecting Research and Teaching Practice ($219).  "Increased attention is being paid to the need for statistically educated citizens...  Increasing the amount of instruction is not sufficient to prepare statistically literate citizens. A major change is needed in how statistics is taught."

Rationality for Mortals

By Gerd Gigerenzer (2008, 256 pgs, hc. $52). Rationality for Mortals: How People Cope with Uncertainty "examines the rationality of individuals not from the perspective of logic or probability, but from the point of view of adaptation to the real world of human behavior... Seen from this perspective, human behavior is more rational than it might otherwise appear."

Statistical Myths, Urban Legends

Edited by Charles Lance and Robert Vandenburg.  Statistical and Methodological Myths and Urban Legends: Doctrine, Verity and Fable in the Organizational and Social Sciences reviews "commonly undertaken methodological and statistical practices that are sustained, in part, .. upon unfounded lore.  Historically, there is a kernel of truth to...these legends, but...has been long forgotten."

Probably Not...

By Lawrence N. Dworsky (2008, 310 pgs, $54pb). Probably Not: Future Prediction Using Probability and Statistical Inference. "organized around easy-to-follow examples that address the role of probability ... in real-life situations. Fun-to-solve problems including "the shared birthday" and "the prize behind door 1, 2 or 3" are found throughout the book"

Measure Up: Educational Tests

By Daniel Koretz. (2008, 368 pgs, $24hc). Measuring Up: What Educational Testing Really Tells Us is inspired by a popular Harvard grad course.  Measuring Up demystifies educational testing—from MCAS to SAT to WAIS, with all the alphabet soup in between. Bringing statistical terms down to earth, Koretz takes readers through the most fundamental issues. Interview.

Uncertainty and Risk

By Gabriele Bammer and Michael Smithson (2008, 200 pgs, $97hc). Uncertainty and Risk: Multidisciplinary Perspectives (The Earthscan Risk in Society Series) Reviews: "The most thorough examination of ‘uncertainty,’ the core concept in risk theory and management." Covers a wide range of perspectives, practice and problems."

Know Your Chances -- Health

By Woloshin et al. (2008, $12). Know Your Chances: Understanding Health Statistics is a lively book that helps consumers to interpret the numbers and take the mystery out of medical statistics. By learning ...the medical statistics and knowing what questions to ask, readers will ... see through the hype and find out what...credible information remains.

Everyday Probabilities

By Woolfson (223 pgs, 2008, $43hc). Everyday Probability and Statistics: Health, Elections, Gambling and War presents the important results of probability and statistics without heavy mathematical demands.  Enables an intelligent reader to assess statistical information and to understand that the same information can be presented in different ways

Tracking Adult Numeracy Skills

Edited by Reder/Bynner (2008, $108).  Tracking Adult Literacy and Numeracy Skills: Findings from Longitudinal Research (Routledge Research in Education) "examines the origins of poor literacy and numeracy skills in adulthood as well as what can be done to improve them. The editors bring together the results of longitudinal studies that greatly extend our knowledge."

The Inner Life of Numbers  

By Andrew Hodges (2008, 304 pgs. HC). One to Nine: The Inner Life of Numbers "A virtuoso stream of consciousness containing everything important there is to say about numbers...  Cogent, charming and deeply personal. . . . One to Nine makes the unfathomable enticing and gives the reader tremendous motivation to explore further." —Daily Telegraph (UK)

Bridging the Gap: Sabermetrics

By Eric J. Seidman (2008, 252 pgs, $15). Bridging the Statistical Gap "combines the teaching style of introductory books with the research techniques of advanced publications in order to serve as a [baseball] fan's first foray into sabermetrics."  "Sabermetrics is the analysis of baseball through objective evidence." [Wikipedia]

Guess-ti-mation on a Napkin

By Lawrence Weinstein and John Adam. (2008, 304 pgs. HC). Guesstimation: Solving the World's Problems on the Back of a Cocktail Napkin .  "instills the beauty and power of the back-of-the-envelope calculation. Never again will you take a newspaper figure at face value without feeling the need, and confidence, to guesstimate your own figure." (Matthew Killeya,  New Scientist )

The Drunkard's Walk

By Leonard Mlodinow (2008, 272 pgs, $17hc). The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives.  "Books on randomness and statistics line library shelves, but Mlodinow will help readers sort out Mark Twain's damn lies from meaningful statistics and the choices we face every day." "readable guide to how the ... laws of randomness affect our lives." Stephen Hawking


By Anastasios Tsonis (2008, 200 pgs, $58hc). RANDOMNICITY: Rules and Randomness in the Realm of the Infinite identifies "three sources of randomness: randomness due to irreversibility which inhibits us from extracting whatever rules may underlie a process, randomness due to our inability to have infinite power (chaos), and randomness due to many interacting systems."

Predictably Irrational

by Dan Ariely (2008, 304 pgs, hc $17).  Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions. "The most difficult part of investing is managing your emotions. Dan explains why that is so challenging for all of us, and how recognizing your built-in biases can help you avoid common mistakes." Charles Schwab, Chairman and CEO.

Unlatching the Gate

By Katherine Safford-Ramus (188 pgs, 2008pb). Unlatching the Gate was written for the adult education and postsecondary mathematics educators who teach adults studying mathematics in the U.S.  This book would be ideal for a graduate course or seminar in adult mathematics education or as outreach via a distance learning course or instructor study circle.

Bad Science

Ben Goldacre (2008 352 pgs, Import/pb)  has a crusade against lazy and deceptive writing about science. In Bad Science, he argues that the inability of the press and public to evaluate evidence has become a public health issue.  Review  Read his blogs on his Bad Science website.

Outliers: The Story of Success

By Malcolm Gladwell (2008, 303pgs, $20pb). Outliers: The Story of Success poses a question: why do some people succeed, living remarkably productive and impactful lives, while so many more never reach their potential? Challenging our cherished belief of the "self-made man," he  builds a convincing case for how successful people rise on a tide of advantages.

Causality in the Social Sciences

by Federica RussoCausality and Causal Modelling in the Social Sciences: Measuring Variations "argues that causal models are regimented by ...variation...thus breaking down the ...Humean paradigm. The notion of variation is shown to be embedded in the scheme of reasoning behind various causal models: e.g. Rubin’s model, contingency tables, and multilevel analysis.."

Revitalizing Causality

By Ruth Groff (2008, $133).  Revitalizing Causality: Realism about Causality in Philosophy and Social Science (Routledge Studies in Critical Realism)  This cutting edge collection ... addresses just what it means to invoke causal mechanisms ... in...offering a causal explanation ...helping to stake out a new, neo-Aristotelian position within contemporary debate.

Introduction to Statistical Modeling

by Daniel Kaplan.  "introduces and illuminates the statistical reasoning used in modern research throughout the natural and social sciences, medicine, government, and commerce. It emphasizes the use of models to untangle and quantify variation in observed data. By a deft and concise use of computing coupled with an innovative geometrical presentation of the relationship among variables, ..."

Introduction to Statistical Modeling

By Danny Kaplan (left).  A Fresh Approach reveals the logic of statistical inference and empowers the reader to use and understand techniques such as analysis of covariance that appear widely in published research but are hardly ever found in introductory texts. [Added 2012]

Causes and Coincidences 

by David Owens.  "proposes that coincidences have no causes, and that a cause is something that ensures that its effects are no coincidence." "causal facts can be analyzed in terms of non-causal facts, including relations of necessity. ... causation is defined in terms of coincidence, and coincidence without reference to causation." "challenges ideas of Hume, Davidson and Lewis"[2013]

136 Incredible Coincidences

By Vikas Khatri.  "A chronicle of occurrences encompassing myriads of people, including Jefferson, Lincoln, Hitler, Stalin, Charlie Chaplin, Arthur Conan Doyle, Kennedy, Reagan and footballer Pele."  Paperback: 126 pages.   Publisher: Pustak Mahal.  


More or Less

"an idea born of the sense that numbers were the principal language of public argument. And yet there were few places where it was thought necessary to step back and think - in the way we often step back to think about language - about the way we use figures: what they really measure, what kind of truth, if any, they capture."  First presented by Andrew Dilnot (left).

Blastland Primer on Statistics

In 2008, Michael Blastland (left) presented a six-part primer on understanding statistics in the news on the BBC. Lesson 1: Surveys; Lesson 2: Counting;  Lesson 3: Percentages; Lesson 4: Averages; Lesson 5: Causation and Lesson 6: Doubt.  Michael Blastland and Andrew Dilnot were, respectively, creator and presenter of the BBC Radio 4 series on numbers, More or Less." 

The Tiger that Isn't

In 2007, Michael Blastland and Andrew Dilnot co-authored The Tiger That Isn't: Seeing Through a World of Numbers " "Numbers saturate the news, politics, life.  for good or ill, they are today's pre-eminent public language -- and those who speak it rule... But they are also hated and often for the same reasons.  They can bamboozle  not enlighten..." See also The Numbers Racket.

The Numbers Game  

In 2008, Michael Blastland and Andrew Dilnot co-authored The Numbers Game: The Commonsense Guide to Understanding Numbers in the News, in Politics, and in Life.   "The Strunk & White of statistics team up to help the average person navigate the numbers in the news."  Concise chapters on size, chance, averages, targets, risk, measurement, and data.


RSS Center Stat Ed Moves to Plymouth

The Royal Statistical Society (RSS) announced today (Oct 17, 2008), that it has selected the University of Plymouth as the new home for the Centre for Statistical Education. The university secured the contract to host this prestigious centre against very stiff competition. The centre works to promote the improvement of statistical education, training and understanding at all ages.

Widespread Statistical Illiteracy

Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing America's Schools Back to Reality by Charles Murray (2008, 228pgs, $17hc). "Widespread statistical illiteracy... is cause for immediate concern because none of us...has time to assess the data independently... We all have to rely on the quality of information we get from the media-and, as of today, that quality is terrible."

School seniors: 57% lack math readiness

By ACT (2008).   Among ACT test takers, 57% lack readiness for college algebra.  By race: 37% of Asians, 51% of whites, 74% of Hispanics, 75% of American Indians and 89% of blacks. By preparation: 26% of those taking Calculus, 62% of those taking Geometry, Algebra 2 and Trig, and 86% of those taking just Algebra 2 and Geometry.  College readiness is the minimum score needed on an ACT subject-area test for a 75% chance of obtaining a C or higher in the corresponding course.

Reading, Literacy & Education Statistics

33% of children in California will not finish high school.  Disadvantaged students in the first grade have a vocabulary that is approximately half that of an advantaged student (2,900 vs. 5,800).  More than three out of four of those on welfare, 85% of unwed mothers and 68% of those arrested are illiterate. About three in five of America's prison inmates are illiterate.   Approximately 50 percent of the nation's unemployed youth age 16-21 are functional illiterate.

Freakonomics and Statistical Illiteracy

How Valid Are T.V. Weather Forecasts by J.D. Eggleston was contained in the Freakonomics column in The New York Times.   Adam Hersch, Globalize This,  panned this analysis as an example of statistical illiteracy.  "my point was that the blog author ... perpetuated fundamental misconceptions about the nature of probability and forecasts. Not to mention vilifying television weather forecasters." At issue is how to measure the quality of probabilistic predictions.

Stat-Help for Journalists

Journalist gets statistics backward; guilty of the confusing the inverse. 
A New York Times journalist said "at Stuyvesant...2 percent of blacks, 3 percent of Hispanics, 24 percent of whites and 72 percent of Asians were accepted.  He should have said "among those accepted at Stuyvesant...2 percent are blacks, 3 percent are Hispanics, 24 percent are whites and 72 percent are Asians."

Science Education: Read the Newspaper

By James Trefil (George Mason Univ.).  "the main problem with general education in the sciences is that we have set ourselves the wrong goal. Rather than thinking about the problem of producing miniature scientists, let me advance .... an alternate goal: Students should be able to read the newspaper on the day they graduate.... we [should] think about the way our students will use their science education in later life, and then adopt goals that support those uses."

The Innumeracy of the Intellectuals

By Chad Orzel. "Inside Higher Education" 8/20/08.  "I think the lack of respect for math and science is one of the largest unacknowledged problems in today’s society. And it starts in the academy — somehow, we have moved to a place where people can consider themselves educated while remaining ignorant of remarkably basic facts of math and science. It simply should not be acceptable for people who are ignorant of math and science to consider themselves Intellectuals"

CLA: College Learning Assessment

The Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) is an innovative approach to assessing your institution’s contribution to student learning developed by CAE with the RAND Corporation. Our measures are designed to simulate complex, ambiguous situations that every successful college graduate may one day face.  Tested skills include critical thinking, analytical reasoning, problem solving and written communication.  Specific skills include "understand data in tables and figures."

Statistical Tie

When the difference between two candidates is not statistically significant, is this a statistical tie?   Mano Singham and Nick Beaudrot says "No!"  They reference Kevin Drum.  This issue was raised by Douglas Lonnstrom at IASE in 2001, Statistical Dead Heat and the Mass Media The issue is whether or not to start with a null hypothesis.  {Should political polls and clinical trials have different standards just as do civil and criminal law? Ed.}


Quantitative Literacy Skills

The NSF awarded TERC (Cambridge, MA) $1,965,674 to fund "Statistics For Action": a project involving "informal science education."  Mary Jane Schmitt and Martha Merson are co-PIs. Deliverables include bilingual, print- and web-based instructional materials for environmental organizations to use with staff and community members.

TERC is partnering with the Toxics Action Center to enhance the capacity of environmental organizations to teach mathematical literacy skills to low-income citizens, mostly women of color. The project is (1) developing math- and statistics-rich educational materials that help non-scientists interpret environmental test results, (2) developing training materials that help environmental organization personnel provide Q/L training to citizens, ...

Q/L throughout Social Sciences

The NSF awarded the Univ. of Michigan a $369,932 Phase 3 CCLI grant titled "Infusing Quantitative Literacy throughout the Social Science Curriculum." Bill Frey and William Alter are co-PIs.  Bill Frey is Director of the Social Sciences Data Analysis Network (SSDAN) and author of America by the Numbers.

The primary project activities are creating, disseminating, and assessing teaching materials that make it easy for instructors to integrate data analysis in non-methodology courses. The goal is to reduce the "quantitative reasoning gap" between what students learn in early courses and the importance of empirical research in the social sciences. A second goal of the project is to recruit experienced faculty members to develop new tools for assessing student learning and to conduct assessments in their classes.

National Parks and Q/L

In 2008, the NSF awarded the Univ. of S. Florida $197,688 in a CCLI-Phase 1 grant.  Len Vacher (left) is PI along with Rains, Iverson, Juster and Harden. This project promotes Quantitative Literacy and a form of scientific literacy - the "science-in-action" realization that data-based science is crucial in making decisions that society cares about."

Conditional Probability

The NSF awarded the University of Wisconsin $99,924 to fund "Development of Conditional Probability Judgments" with Charles Kalish  (Math) as PI.  Conditional probability judgments are involved when interpreting statistical claims. By under-standing how children approach conditional probability we can design more effective instruction to improve scientific literacy.

Science Literacy & Journalism

The NSF awarded the Univ. of Missouri St. Louis $1,651,166 for "Science Literacy through Science Journalism."  Joseph Polman is PI. The project approaches science journalism as a means to assist students to investigate and coherently write about contemporary science and to learn to base assertions and descriptions on reliable, publicly available sources.

Enhance Math Literacy

In 2008, the NSF awarded the Algebra Project $717,451 for "R&D: The Development of Student Cohorts for the Enhancement of Mathematical Literacy in Under Served Populations "  Robert Moses (left) is PI. Cohort students commit to take mathematics classes every day for 90 minutes for four years and to use Algebra Project materials 

QUOTES: Quantitative Literacy


QR is less about the manipulation of numbers than it is about the evaluation and construction of arguments.  Neil Lutsky, Illuminating Arguments with Numbers.

Quantitative literacy faces two challenges: first, recognizing that Q/L must encompass more than matters of calculation, and second, finding ways to integrate Q/L -- and critical thinking more generally -- into the curriculum. Joel Best, Calculation vs. Context

If QL is not taught in Mathematics, it will not happen.   Hugh Burckhardt, Calculation vs. Context

Mathematicians are least-well prepared to deal with the meaning of socially-constructed numbers, which is the essence of QLNeil Lutsky, Calculation vs. Context

"Numeracy ... is the ability to comprehend, use and attach meaning to numbers."   Nelson et al, Clinical Implication of Numeracy, Annals of Behavioral Medicine 2008 

The teaching of mathematics K-16 ... has not met the challenge of creating a quantitatively literacy citizenry.  Richard Shavelson, Calculation vs. Context

There is a "serious mismatch between the quantitative demands that US society places on its citizens and the quantitative education made available. Bernie Madison

Lasting change begins with a clear conception of the measurable features of numeracy.   Frank Murray, Calculation vs. Context


Students who complete Algebra II are more than twice as likely to graduate from college compared to students with less mathematical preparation.  A major goal for K–8 mathematics education should be proficiency with fractions (including decimals, percents, and negative fractions), for such proficiency is foundational for algebra and, at the present time, seems to be severely underdeveloped.   The most important foundational skill not presently developed appears to be proficiency with fractions (including decimals, percents, and negative fractions).  The teaching of fractions must be ... improved before an increase in student achievement in algebra can be expected. National Mathematics Advisory Panel.

Introduce rates and percentages as presented in tables and graphs in middle school as a pre-Algebra bridging course. Milo Schield, Calculation vs. Context

Introduce a quantitative literacy course or a statistical literacy course [as an alternative to Algebra II]Milo Schield, Calculation vs. Context


SENCER: Q/L and Projects

SENCER: Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities.  Incorporates SENCER strategies into an existing general education course (Math 102-Quantitative Skills for the Modern World) that is required for all students at Loyola Marymount Univ. except those in quantitative majors. By Zachariah, Larson & Dewar (Loyola Marymount U.)

SENCER: Statistics with Civics

By Cindy Kaus (2008, Metropolitan Univ., MN). "Key statistics concepts, such as probability, regression, distributions, outliers, correlation and statistical significance, are taught "through" issues of civic importance, such as voting results, the death penalty, drug use, or unemployment. Lectures are combined with ... a community-based group project...


Quant. Methods for Comm.

By Wrench, Thomas-Maddox, Richmond and McCroskey (2008, 304 pgs, $30).   Quantitative Research Methods for Communication: A Hands-On Approach is an introductory textbook on the fundamentals of communication research. Includes the three most common techniques: survey, content analysis, and experiment.

Quant. Research in Commun.

Edited by Michael Allen, B. Scott Titsworth and Stephen Hunt.  (2008, 256 pgs pb. $37).illustrating how particular research methods can be used to answer very practical, civic-minded questions.  illustrate how statistical procedures are used in a wide variety of contexts, such as tsunami warnings, date requests, and anti-drug public service announcements.

Quant. Methods for Health

By Nigel Bruce, Daniel Pope and Debbi Stanistreet (9/2008).  Quantitative Methods for Health Research: A Practical Interactive Guide to Epidemiology and Statistics ($115) "is a practical, interactive course in epidemiology and statistics, designed to achieve a level of knowledge and skills appropriate to a masters in health sciences, public health ..."

Quant. Methods in Linguistics

By Keith Johnson. (2008, 296 pgs, $88).  "This rich and rewarding textbook is a must-read for all students and researchers who wish to follow the new wave of sophisticated empirical models and methods now sweeping the field of linguistics from phonetics to syntax and semantics." Joan Bresnan, Stanford University.  Uses R for statistical analysis.

Quantitative Problem Solving

By Stephen DeMeo (2008, 304 pgs, $30, textbook).   Multiple Solution Methods for Teaching Science in the Classroom: Improving Quantitative Problem Solving Using Dimensional Analysis and Proportional Reasoning.  These two methods are used to enhance conceptual understanding while solving problems in  biology, chemistry, physics, and earth science.  

Head First Statistics

By Dawn Griffiths (2008).  Brings statistics to life, teaching you everything you want and need to know about statistics through engaging, interactive, and thought-provoking material, full of puzzles, stories, quizzes, visual aids, and real-world examples.  Ideal for high school and college students; satisfies AP Stats requirements. 



The May 2008 issue of Focus on Basics is on Numeracy with Numeracy Matters by Myrna Manly and Using Part-Whole Thinking in Math by Dorothea Steinke. {Study the sections on Understanding Relationships and New Model for Word Problems for a fascinating presentation on the development of part-whole understanding in children and their central status in mathematics. Ed.}

Data Planet Data Service

Data-Planet’s easy-to-use desktop tool lets you quickly access and instantly compare over 30 Million time series (over 7 billion data points) from hundreds of sources and millions of metrics.  Powered by WebCEO: a new way to turn data into knowledge. $2,895/yr  with academic discounts available.  See also Lexis-Nexis DataSets.  See Coyle's slide presentation at NNN.

Understanding Uncertainty

New 2008. "the site that tries to make sense of chance, risk, luck, uncertainty and probability. Mathematics won't tell us what to do, but...understanding numbers can help us deal with our own uncertainty and allow us to look critically at stories in the media." Cambridge Statistical Lab.  Check out "life tables." Select Behavior tab; select sex, age & behaviors to see future.

Data Driven Learning Guides

"ICPSR's Online Learning Center (OLC) supports quantitative literacy in the social sciences by providing an effective and reliable means of bringing data into the classroom." Our "Data-Driven Learning Guides are designed for in-class presentation or as supplemental activities ... demonstrating a variety of types of ... analysis and substantive concepts." Lynette Hoelter (staff)

Pass Advanced Numeracy Tests

By Mike Bryon (2008, 224 pgs, $13).  How to Pass Advanced Numeracy Tests: Improve Your Scores in Numerical Reasoning and Data Interpretation Psychometric Tests.  "Pitched at a more advanced "graduate" level, it has much to offer the beginner. Testing areas covered include quantitative reasoning, data interpretation, and business judgment [with data sufficiency]."


A multi-author blog created by Armin Grossenbacher (right) in 2006.  In 2008, Blogstats featured various data-related tools: the EUC inflation dashboard, Google Analytics, OECD Explorer Online Visualization Tool, FactRanking, Predicting Future Statistics and ABS CData Online

Quantitative Analysis of Sports

Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports focuses on quantitative analysis of all sports (e.g., to measure player performance and project performance between leagues). This Journal is a publication of Berkeley Electronic Press (bepress) and is indexed in Intute, MathSciNet, RePEc, SPORTDiscus, Technology Research Database (CSA), and Zentralblatt MATH.

Encyclopedia of Risk Analysis

The Encyclopedia of Quantitative Risk Analysis and Assessment is edited by Edward L. Melnick and Brian S. Everitt (2,176 pgs., $1,190HC). Materials "on drug safety, investment theory, public policy applications, transportation safety, public perception of risk, epidemiological risk, national defence and security, critical infrastructure, and program management. "  


Health: Statistical Illiteracy

Helping Doctors and Patients Make Sense of Health Statistics by Gerd Gigerenzer, Wolfgang Gaissmaier, Elke Kurz-Milcke, Lisa Schwartz & Steve Woloshin (2007). Provide evidence that statistical illiteracy (a) is common to patients, journalists, and physicians; (b) is created by nontransparent framing of information and (c) can have serious consequences for health.

Most Research Findings - False

In 2005, John P A Ioannidis (pictured) published "Why Most Published Research Findings Are False".  In 2008, Goodman and Greenland responded: "Assessing the unreliability of the medical literature..."   Ioannidis replied.  See also: "Most Published Research Findings Are False—But a Little Replication Goes a Long Way" Read Why is Ioannidis the Icon for Pseudo-science?

Math for Success [at School]

The National Mathematics Advisory Panel (Dr. Larry Faulkner, Chair) concluded that "The most important foundational skill not presently developed appears to be proficiency with fractions" and "The teaching of fractions must be acknowledged as critically important and improved before an increase in student achievement in algebra can be expected." See: #1#2 p.8, #3

Current Practices Distort

In "Why Current Publication Practices May Distort Science" Neal Young, John Ioannidis (above) and Omar Al-Ubaydli (right) note that "scientific information is an economic commodity, and that scientific journals are a medium for its dissemination and exchange.  Economic modelling of science may yield important insights."

Reversal Paradoxes

Yu-Kang Tu (pictured), Gunnell and Gilthorpe published "Simpson's Paradox, Lord's Paradox, and Suppression Effects are the same phenomenon – the reversal paradox" -- "depending on whether the outcome and explanatory variables are categorical, continuous or a combination of both."  For more, see Wainer (2004), Tu (2005) and Tu (2007).

Folk Numeracy

by Michael Shermer (2008). "Folk numeracy is our natural tendency to misperceive and miscalculate probabilities, to think anecdotally instead of statistically, and to focus on and remember short-term trends and small-number runs." "Given enough opportunities, outlier anomalies — even seeming miracles — will occasionally happen."

Fuzzy Trace Theory

A Theory of Medical Decision Making and Health: Fuzzy Trace Theory (2008) by Valerie Reyna, Cornell University.  See also How People Make Decisions That Involve Risk (2004), Numeracy and Health by Eric Wago and "The importance of mathematics in health and human judgment: Numeracy, risk communication, and medical decision making" by Reyna and Brainerd.

Numeracy, Ratio Bias ...

Numeracy, ratio bias, and denominator neglect in judgments of risk and probability by Valerie Reyna (left) and Charles Brainerd (right) in Learning and Individual Differences 18 (2008) 89-107.  Comprehensive overview.  Identifies plausible psychological mechanisms for adult difficulties with ratios. See also Risk and Rationality in Adolescent Decision Making (2006) Reyna & Farley.

National Numeracy Network (NNN)

NNN Annual Meeting

Corri Taylor, President, convened the annual meeting of the National Numeracy Network (NNN) at Colby-Sawyer on May 15.  Bernie Madison is the founder and President Emeritus of NNN. Board members are David Bressoud (Macalester), Neil Lutsky (Carleton), Caren Diefenderfer (Hollins), Eric Gaze (Alfred Univ.) and John Jungck (Beloit).  Milo Schield is vice-President.

The Chance Project

Laurie Snell reviewed the Chance project: its origin, goals, and outcomes.  See his "Using Chance Media to Promote Statistical Literacy."  "In a typical class, we ... read an article in the current news that uses concepts of probability or statistics and answer a two or three discussion questions."  Laurie is looking for an organization or individual to operate the Chance website.

Learning from Literacy Theory

Eric Gaze (Alfred University) presented What Numeracy can Learn from Theories of Literacy at the 2008 National Numeracy Network annual meeting.  He focused on the importance of ratios and the argued that there was a need for an "industry standard" on the basic Q/L tool set.  Slides.

Analyzing Numbers in the News

Milo Schield (Augsburg College) presented Analyzing Numbers in the News: A Structured Approach at the 2008 National Numeracy Network annual meeting.   Slides.  He argued that news-based courses should give students a structure to analyze arguments.  He compared questions raised by Neil Lutsky and Gerald Bracey with those used in the W. M. Keck Statistical Literacy Project.

Lexis-Nexis Datasets

Daniel Coyle (LexisNexis) presented LexisNexis Statistical DataSets: a teaching tool that aggregates 120 databases in one user-friendly interface. "Instantly access statistical information from 5.3 billion data points with this dynamic new tool."   Take a Tour!

Getting from Hostility to Buy-In

Glenn Sproul (Johnson State) presented "Developing a QR program: getting from hostility to acceptance and faculty buy-in" at the NNN annual meeting.   His presentation included "A Brief History of Quantitative Reasoning at Johnson State College."   Transparencies.

Q/L Workshops

N.E. Consortium on Q/L: NECQL

Semra Kilic-Bahi (right) chaired the 12th Annual Meeting of the North East Consortium on Quantitative Literacy (NECQL) May 17 at Colby-Sawyer.  In Refocused College Algebra – A Basis for Q/L, Don Small noted that such a course "emphasizes creative problem solving [which] is central to Q/L." Priscilla Bremser presented Mathematics, for, and of, social justice.  

Writing with Data

The Writing with Numbers Workshop featured Mya Poe (right) who presented "Storyboarding With Data: Using Quantitative Reading to Teach Research Writing." 6up.  Heather Tompkins and Paula Lackie (Carleton College) presented "What's On-Line and What's on Campus to Support Student Writing with Numbers?"  

Illuminating Arguments

In Illuminating Arguments with Numbers, Neil Lutsky argues that "QR is less about the manipulation of numbers than it is about the evaluation and construction of arguments" and we should "encounter numbers in the context of arguments." This is a 28 slide version of the original 46 slide version. Boersma, Diefenderfer and Madison presented "Calculations in Context"

NNN Presentations

In The Published Numeracy Network (4up, 1up), Len Vacher (left) and Todd Chavez introduced the web of science (Science Citation Index) and HistCite graphs showing the citation history of papers contained in the web of science.  "Think of your new discipline as a new silo with pervious boundaries."  Mya Poe presented "Integrating Writing and QR in Disciplinary courses."



Project Kaleidoscope (Jeanne Narum, PKAL Director) and Carleton's Quirk project (Nathan Grawe, Director) co-sponsored this conference at Carleton College). Project AgendaProject facilitators. Project workshop schedule.  

Challenges of QR Assessment

Donna Sundre (Professor and Executive Director of the Center for Assessment and Research Studies at James Madison University) gave an invited slide presentation: The Challenges of Quantitative Reasoning Assessment.  Donna also gave a slide presentation on "The James Madison Story."  See Assessment and Quantitative Reasoning test.

Assess Q/R in Student Writing

In March, Nathan Grawe (Carleton) presented slides: "Assessing Quantitative Reasoning in Student Writing: A QuIRKy Experience" to the New England Educational Assessment Network.  This included a review of Q/R assessments and details on Carleton's QUIRK assessment strategy.  {This is an outstanding review of Q/R assessments}

Numeracy: Peer-reviewed

Len Vacher introduced Numeracy: the new journal of the NNN.  In his talk he made three points:  1) Your good work doesn’t exist as scholarship until it is published. 2) It cannot be considered “good” until it is peer-reviewed. 3) It will not have impact until it is indexed (in a bibliographic database).  So, support numeracy by submitting articles to Numeracy1up

2008 StatLit Skills Survey

Milo Schield (Director of the W. M. Keck Statistical Literacy Project) analyzed the results of a 69 question survey given to 100 students at Augsburg College. Reliability (Cronbach alpha) was 0.71. Models based on unconditioned and conditional correlations were compared.  The issue of content validity must be addressed. 6upQuirk6up

Assess StatLit Skills @ Augsburg

Mark Isaacson (Augsburg College) presented slides on the results of a pilot survey on student's ability to answer questions about a US Government consumer-directed publication: "Quick Facts from the 2006 National Survey of Hunting, Fishing and Wildlife-Associated Recreation." He presented the associated questions.   and the results in his slide presentation.  6up


Math Across C/C Curriculum

Klement Teixeira (pictured), the CUNY Borough of Manhattan Community Colleges (BMCC), chaired a MAC3 - Q/R conference.  Speakers included Bill Briggs (Teaching Q/L), Rebecca Hartzler (Math Across the Curriculum: Inspiration and Resources) and Maura Mast (Mathematics and Democracy).  IndexProgram Resources. Speakers.

Q/L in America

Bernie Madison (pictured, Univ. of Arkansas, founder of NNN) presented Q/L in America: What Kind, How Much and Beyond. "School and college mathematics is largely dictated by the needs of developing engineers, scientists, and mathematicians, with only a bow to general education as an expected consequence." 

MAA MathFest

July 30- Aug 2 Madison, WI

2008 MathFest Schedule: David Bressoud (NNN Board member and MAA President-elect, right).  Panels on Quantitative Reasoning included:

*  Role of QL Centers in Supporting Students and Faculty,
*  Math Matters: Numerate Approaches to Everyday Issues

Confounder Influence on Cases

Milo Schield presented "Confounder Influence on Attributed Cases." (1up)  Deaths attributed to being overweight/obese dropped from 400,000 in 2004 to 28,500 in 2006. "Statistical Literacy must focus on the influence of confounding on events attributable to an associated factor." "Students are amazed that 'attributed to' (due to) is totally unrelated to any causal claim."

Adult Learning Mathematics: ALM

ALM 15th Annual Conference

ALM 15 was held in Philadelphia 6/29 - 7/3.  Schmitt et al presented "A Professional Learning Model for Adult Education Math Teachers." Katherine Safford-Ramus presented "What Mathematics should adults learn?"

ALM Journal

The ALM Journal publishes twice a year.  The April 2008 issue focused on "The Future of Mathematics in Adult Education from Gender Perspectives"  The November issue focused on "Parents’ involvement in mathematics education: looking for connections between family and school."  Vol 1 and Vol 2.  

QUOTES: Statistical Literacy


Statistical literacy should be taught in school beginning in the primary grades. Collective statistical illiteracy refers to the widespread inability to understand the meaning of numbers. Numeracy is a prerequisite to being statistically literate.  Gerd Gigerenzer, Science News

Widespread statistical illiteracy... is cause for immediate concern because none of us, no matter how thorough our training, has the time to assess the data independently on every topic. We all have to rely on the quality of information we get from the media-and, as of today, that quality is terrible.  Charles Murray

Statistical literacy demands rethinking the teaching of statistics. ... as a disciplined problem-solving techniqueStatistical literacy is a necessary precondition for an educated citizenship in a technological democracy.  Gigerenzer et al

Statistical literacy is an important asset for full citizenship   Peter Campos, Statistics Portugal


The quest for statistical significance ... is a deeply flawed substitute for thoughtful analysis.  McCloskey and Ziliak in "The Cult of Statistical Significance."

When the difference between two candidates is not statistically significant, this is not a statistical tie.   Mano Singham, Nick Beaudrot and Kevin Drum.

Official statistics are of no use unless they are used. Sharleen Forbes

Folk numeracy is our natural tendency to misperceive and miscalculate probabilities. Michael Shermer, Liberal Education


The use of graphs and equations is banned from use in parliamentary debatesBBC News Magazine (Reader comment) 8/19/2008

Pre- and in-service teachers do not think of a graph as a tool to explore data.  Gail Burrill, 2008 IASE

Petabytes allow us to say: "Correlation is enough." We can stop looking for models.  Data Deluge Makes Scientific Method Obsolete.  Wired Magazine.

International Statistical Literacy Project

Gov. Stat. Offices & StatLit

The International Statistical Literacy Project (ISLP) issued a web-book: "Government Statistical Offices and Statistical Literacy."  Editor Juana Sanchez (Ch 1) noted, "we hope to present some very successful alternatives: those programs of some National Statistical Offices (NSOs) whose only purpose is to increase the level of statistical literacy of the public."

Official Stats: Finland

Ch. 5 by Reija Helenius. The promotion of skills in statistical literacy and use of statistics is one of Statistics Finland's strategic goals. The "How to read and use statistics" module is a good example of the basics everyone should know.  The module was compiled by Jussi Melkas, (Chair, Advisory Board) who teaches statistical literacy.

Official Stats: Canada

Statistics Canada's Learning Resources website released a Teacher’s Guide to Data Discovery developed by Mary Townsend (Ch 4).  It helps teachers find interesting and grade-appropriate datasets, choose appropriate graphs for different kinds of data and calculate basic statistical measures.  See also her 2006 paper, "Developing Statistical Literacy in Youth." 

Official Stats: New Zealand

Chapter 3 by Sharleen Forbes.  "official statistics are of no use unless they are used. Increasing the skills of members of the public in how to use statistics as either an information base or in local community decision making is likely to increase the overall use and, therefore, the value of official statistics.  [For more details on ISLP, check the ISLP Monthly Newsletters.]

Certificate of Official Statistics

New Zealand: The Certificate of Official Statistics is a vocational certificate involving four units all in a public-sector context: (1) Interpret statistical information to form conclusions, (2) Use statistical information to make policy recommendations.  (3) Assess a sample survey and evaluate inferences; (4) Resolve ethical and legal issues in the collection and use of data.

Official Stats: Australia

Ch. 7 by Paul Taylor.  To increase statistical literacy in schools, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) developed four criteria: data awareness, the ability to understand statistical concepts, the ability to analyse, interpret and evaluate statistical information, and the ability to communicate statistical information and understandings.  Statistical literacy competencies are organized by grade.

ICME-11: Monterrey


July 6-13. TSG-13 (R & D in the teaching and learning of statistics). Chairs: Rolf Biehler (Germany) and Mike Shaughnessy (USA).  TSG-14 (R & D in the teaching and learning of probability). Chairs: Manfred Borovcnik (Austria) and Dave Pratt (UK)

Building Sampling Concepts

Maxine Pfannkuch presented "Building Sampling Concepts for Statistical Inference: A Case Study".  This paper examines how reasoning about sampling variability can be developed in 14 year olds.  Results suggest that teacher-student discourse and imagery were key factors. One issue is the appropriate use of contextual knowledge in telling explanatory stories.

Level of StatLit at School

Rosemary Callingham (right, Univ. New England, AU), Jane Watson & Julie Donne (Univ. Tasmania) present "Influencing Statistical Literacy in the Middle Years of Schooling: The first Year of the StatSmart Project." The level of statistical literacy by grade showed improvements as students aged, but there was little improvement at "critical engagement" level.

New Statistical Illiteracies

Ridgway, Nicholson (left) and McCusker presented "Mapping New Statistical Illiteracies and Literacies." Statistical literacy (SL) has long been a concern in math education. Current literature provides evidence that SL is hard to acquire.  We present evidence that understanding MV data need NOT be difficult and we outline some key targets for future research."

Biases: Conditional Reasoning

Carmen Díaz (left) and Carmen Batanero presented "Students’ Biases in Conditional Probability Reasoning."  Their data indicated "the psychological biases investigated are unrelated to conditional probability problem solving..."   The biases studied included these fallacies: the fallacy of conjunction, the base rate, the transposed conditional and the time axis.

Notion of Statistical Literacy in PISA

"Revealing the Notion of Statistical Literacy within the PISA Results" was presented by Karen François, (Free Univ., Brussels), Carlos Monteiro (Fed. Univ. Pernambuco, Brazil) and Stijn Vanhoof (Catholic Univ, Leuven).  They concluded that "mathematical and statistical literacy are highly related" (for both students and countries).

Statistical Inference: Classical-Bayesian

"A Parallel Discussion of Classical and Bayesian Ways as Introduction to Statistical Inference – Teacher Training in Hungary" was presented by Ödön Vancsó. "a lot of them [student-teachers] confirmed that they understood the very notion of probability better and could apply the theory of probability more self-confidently in real situations.

Informal Inference & Scientific Inference

by Tim Erickson.  "We compare and contrast statistical inference with scientific inference, looking for perspectives and insights to help us improve instruction in this difficult topic.  The problem of getting the underlying logic right—and all of its ramifications, linguistic and otherwise—seems to be a persistent problem that science and statistics share."

IASE 2008 Monterrey

IASE Roundtable Conference

Carmen Batanero chaired "Statistics Education in School Mathematics: Challenges for Teaching and Teacher Education" held June 30-July 4. A discussion document presented the background, the current issues and the organization of the invited papers in six categories.  All papers are currently accessible under Proceedings/Sessions and Papers.

Reconceptualising Stat.  Educ.

Jim Ridgway (pictured), James Nicholson and Sean McCusker (U. Durham) presented Reconceptualizing 'Statistics' and 'Education'. On statistics, "most interesting problems are multivariate (MV)." On education, "the curriculum (and ideas about statistical literacy) should encompass reasoning with multivariate [MV] data"  [A fascinating read! Ed.}

Connecting Probability & Stats

In "Strengthening the Interplay between Probability and Statistics..." Delia North (South Africa, pictured) and Helen MacGillivray (Australia) argue that "too long a focus on ... equally-likely scenarios .. stultifies growth .. and turns Chance into a backwater of boredom."  They support "the use of relative frequencies to estimate conditional probabilities..."

Strong Role for Probability

In "A Plea for a Relative Strong Role For Probability...", Manfred Borovcnik (Austria) noted that while "probability is rapidly vanishing out of the curricula," "only a sound notion of conditional probability enables learners to grasp any kind of inferential statistics" and elaborations on probability are necessary to reveal the peculiarity of stochastic thinking.

Fundamental Ideas: Graphs

Gail Burrill (Michigan State) presented "Fundamental Ideas in Teaching Statistics and How They Affect the Teaching of Teachers".  The importance of graphs was noted along with the preference for bar graphs and the reluctance to use scatterplots.  Yet scatterplots are needed to show relationships between variables such as equality.

Focus on Graphing

In "A Focus on Graphing", Janet Ainley (Leicester, pictured) and Carlos Monteiro (Brazil) noted that "materials designed to support teachers' implementation of the curriculum reflect a more passive approach to graphing" -- construction. They argue for "the importance of active use of graphing [interpretation] for the emergence of transparency." 

Toward Statistical Literacy

Joachim Engel (pictured), Peter Sedlmeier, and Claudia Wörn presented "Modeling Scatterplot Data and the Signal-Noise Ratio: Moving toward Statistical Literacy for Pre-service teachers."  Results: the real-data modeling approach in an applied mathematics course improves statistical thinking skills without explicitly focusing on statistics."

Statistics: K-8 Standards

In "Statistics: A Look Across K-8 Standards," Jill Newton (pictured), Leslie Dieteker and Aladar Horvath (Univ. Michigan) found that state requirements involving the four statistical processes (Question, Collect , Analyze and Interpret) fall into two groups: the knowledge to 'do' each of the four processes vs. the knowledge to 'understand' or 'evaluate' each of the four.

Duality of Probability

Pablo Carranza and Alain Kuzniak (University of Paris Diderot, France) reviewed French school textbooks and found that "the Frequentist definition is the only approach taught while students are confronted with Frequentist and Bayesian problem situations."  {Bayesian probabilities about fixed parameters may be confused with inverse probabilities using Bayes rule. Ed.} 

Modeling/Simulation in Stat. Ed

In "Modeling and Simulation in Statistical Education', Brigitte Chaput, Jean Claude Girard and Michael Henry note that "the definition of probability as a stabilized relative frequency raises serious epistemological problems. because it characterizes a mathematical object (probability) from experimental data (frequency)."

New Zealand Statistics Conference

Surfing the Education Wave

Sharleen Forbes gave a keynote address, Surfing the Education Wave Using Official Statistics.   Explains the importance of properly articulating the "story" behind the number and showing how graphs and percentages can add to an article.

Informal Inference

by Maxine Pfannkuch.  Research has concluded that students’ conceptual growth hindered by limited understanding and lack of a sense of variability and distribution -- a lack of attention to conceptual development in earlier years. On informal inference, see the proposed rules in "Making the Call" on slides 13 & 17. 

ASA: Statistical Literacy

Statistical Literacy: 2008

Larry Lesser (University of Texas, El Paso) chaired the 2008 session on Statistical Literacy at the national meeting of the American Statistical Association held in Denver Colorado.  This is the 11th session on statistical literacy organized by Milo Schield.  Approximately 60-80 attended.

Just Plain Data

Gary Klass presented "a short summary of the most common statistical fallacies found in public debates employing social indicator data as the evidentiary premises of arguments about politics and public affairs. The purpose is to offer students a convenient framework for evaluating, and developing their own, arguments relying on social indicator data."   Slides

Substantive Significance

Jane Miller (Rutgers Univ.) presented Substantive Significance of Multivariate Regression Coefficients.  Few, if any statistics textbooks show how to assess and present substantive significance -- in the context of the specific research question.  See also The Goldilocks Principle: Avoiding Pitfalls in Interpretation of Regression Coefficients.  Slides 1up

Numbers in the News

Robert Raymond (right, University of St. Thomas) presented Numbers in the News: A Survey -- co-authored with Milo Schield (below).  Their paper analyzed 800 news articles involving numbers and tabulated the prevalence of 360 different types of statistics and their use as evidence for causation.  Slides: 6up 1up

Simulation-Based Surveys

"Using Simulated Surveys to Teach Statistics: A Preliminary Report" by Marc Isaacson.  This program allows students to spend their time designing survey questions and analyzing realistic data on any topic. Given student input, the simulation program generates a random sample of realistic survey data which allow students to do traditional data analysis..."  slides

Von Mises' Frequentism

Milo Schield (left) and Tom Burnham (Cognitive Consulting) presented "Von Mises' Frequentist Approach To Probability."  Conclusions: It is unwarranted to say that the 13 letter combination of ‘Massachusetts’ is as likely as any other. We should disallow any statement of probability that applies to a single individual without reference to their  group." slides

Student Attitudes to Statistics

Cynthia Schield (left) presented "Student Attitudes toward Statistics at Augsburg College"; Milo Schield co-author. "This data showed a statistically significant increase in students’ feeling of cognitive competence and a statistically significant increase in the difficulty of the course." Students' value increased but was not statistically significant.

Confounding in Intro Stats

Milo Schield (left) organized a round table on "Teaching Confounding And Multivariate Thinking In Introductory Statistics."  Most attendees were from bio-statistics.  They agreed that confounding was absolutely essential but were unsure as to how to teach it in an introductory course.

ASA 2007

Expectations for Stat Lit: Faculty Survey

David Kriska (Walden U.), Mark Fulcomer (Stockton College of NJ) and Marcia Sass (UMD-NJ) presented Expectations for Statistical Literacy: A Survey Of College Faculty."  Top faculty goals: 1) Create useful graphs, 2) Make real-world decisions consistent with data, 3) Apply statistical formula using a hand-calculator and 4) Make a persuasive argument based on statistical analysis. See their 2006 paper: Expectations for Statistical Literacy: Comparison among Professions."  

Reasoning: Summary Measures

Linda Cooper and Felice Shore (Math Dept, Towson University) presented "Students’ Reasoning about Summary Measures from Histograms and Stem-and-Leaf Plots"  Only 32% of their students correctly concluded that mean income was right of median in a right-skewed distribution.  Less than half their students could accurately calculate a mean or median given a histogram.

European Conference on Methodology

EuroCom III  

The third European Conference on Methodology was in Oviedo July 9-11.  Keynotes included "How to Construct Latent Variables" by Rolf Steyer (left) and "Validly estimating dose-response when ... dose is self-selected" by Don Rubin (right).

SATS & STARS: International

Kai Ruggeri (Queens Univ., Belfast) presented "International Focus on Statistics Education" with Carmen Diaz (Spain).  This paper compared psychology majors in four countries: Ireland, Spain, Austria and the US.  It analyzed correlations between STARS, SATS and related factors. Variation in confidence explained over half the variation in attitudes. Slides 6up

Error???Observational Studies

Two papers focused on observational studies.  Tamás Rudas presented Intent-to-Treat Analysis in Observational studies.   He compared the Odds Ratio, Relative Risk and a new Cross-Sum-Ratio on consistency, indifference, and invariance against changes in allocation.  Schield and Burnham presented slides on Binary Confounders as Mathematical Objects.

SATS Measurement Invariance 

José Carmona Márquez presented "Testing for measurement invariance of the Survey of Attitudes Toward Statistics: A comparison of Italian and Spanish students."   Strong invariance was OK across time, but not across country. Weak invariance was OK for both.  Co-authors were Caterina Primi and Francesca Chiesi from University of Florence.

Unreported Previously

College Student Literacy Levels

By AIR (2006). Report  Among U.S. four-year college students, the percentage who are at the BASIC levels is 6% for document literacy, 7% for prose literacy and 20% for quantitative literacy.  The percentage of four-year college students who are PROFICIENT is 40% for whites, 20% for Asians, 19% for Hispanics and 5% for blacks.  Being proficient in quantitative literacy means they can compare credit card offers with different interest rates or the cost per ounce of different foods.

Statistics in the Social Sciences

In her 2004 senior thesis at Wittenberg, Brianne Barclay found that less than 50% of Econ/Mgmt/Math majors and less than 20% of Psychology/Sociology majors agreed (versus neutral or disagreed) that they would take statistics voluntarily. While 94% of all those surveyed said they understood "what it means for data to be statistically significant," only 78% said they understood "how the null hypothesis is important to the analysis of research." Published by VDM Verlag.

Reasoning With Data & Chance

Edited by Gail Burrill and P. Elliott (2006). Thinking and Reasoning with Data and Chance Sixty-eighth Yearbook. Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Themes of The Times on Q/L

Bennett and Briggs (128 pgs, 2007). Themes of Times on Quantitative Literacy for Using and Understanding Mathematics for Using and Understanding Mathematics: A Quantitative Reasoning Approach. This collection "from The Times explores a wide range of quantitative topics appearing in recent news...stories." Articles linked to textbook.

New Editions

Epidemiology for Public Health

By Robert Friis and Thomas Sellers.  Epidemiology for Public Health Practice ($72, 3rd ed. 2008). "Epidemiologic speculations and research findings increasingly blaze across media headlines and heighten anxiety among the public. Understanding the foundations of such news can be daunting. The Third Edition has been extensively revised ..."

Concepts of Epidemiology

By Bhopal (2nd Ed, 2008).  Concepts of Epidemiology: Integrating the ideas, theories, principles and methods of epidemiology.  "illustrates epidemiology and its applications to policy making, health service planning, and health promotion."  "emphasizes theories and principles ... countering the mounting criticism that epidemiology is an a-theoretical discipline"

Statistical Rules of Thumb

By Gerald van Belle (2nd ed., 2008, 272pg, $57). Statistical Rules of Thumb. Topics include covariation, design, consultation, epidemiology, and data representation. Each of the 99 rules has a brief introduction, a simple statement of the rule, illustrations, theoretical underpinnings, and extensions. 2nd edition has new chapters on observational studies and evidence-based medicine.

Turn Numbers into Knowledge

By Jonathan Koomey (2nd ed. 2008, 247pg, $17). "A lively, well-written, attractively packaged book on the art of critical thinking." —Skeptical Inquirer.

Chance Rules

by Brian Everitt (2nd ed., 2008).   Chance Rules: An Informal Guide to Probability, Risk and Statistics  "Additional material in the second edition includes, a probabilistic explanation of why things were better when you were younger, consideration of whether you can use probability to prove the existence of God... learn about probability without complex mathematics."

Workshop Statistics

By Allan Rossman and Beth Chance (2008, 616 pgs, pb textbook, 2nd ed.  $69). Workshop Statistics: Discovery with Data and Minitab. Other varieties: with JMP, SPSS, Excel , graphing calculators and Fathom.

International Math Education

By English (2008, 925 pgs, 2nd ed, $100).  Handbook of International Research in Mathematics Education presents "important new mathematics education research that makes a difference in both theory and practice" including "democratic access to powerful mathematical ideas, advances in research methodologies and influences of advanced technologies. 

Statistical Reasoning in Educ.

By Theodore Coladarci, Casey Cobb, Edward Minium and Robert Clarke.  Fundamentals of Statistical Reasoning in Education (2008, 2nd ed., 496 pg.) is an introductory statistics textbook written specifically for the discipline of education.  See also, Statistical Reasoning in Psychology and Education (Paperback) by Edward Minium and Bruce King.

Stats for the Social Sciences

By Alan Agresti and Barbara Finlay (2008, 624 pgs., 4th ed.  textbook)  Statistical Methods for the Social Sciences.  

Mathematical Thinking & QR

By Linda Sons, Peter Nicholls and Joseph Stephen (4 Lslf edition, 364 pgs., 2008, $67 Kendall Hunt).  The associated course "develops competency in problem solving and analysis, which is helpful in personal decision-making; in evaluating concerns in the community, state and nation; in setting and achieving goals; and in continued learning."

Web News

14,000 views: Percentage Graphs Paper

Over 1,000 views in just one day


May 16, 2007: Blogger John Walker said Schield's 2006 ASA paper, Percentage Graphs in USA Today, was "technical" but "pretty interesting."  The paper took off with over 8,000 viewings in 2007.  Less were expected in 2008. But in 2008 there have been over 14,000 viewings for a lifetime total of over 22,000.  In one day (August 25th 2008), there were 1,080 viewings. 

YouTube Videos (11/08)

Confidence (20,020): level (906), interval (64). 
Statistics: (9,500): song (5,800), rap (803), math (560), lecture (106).
Significance (5,340): practical (293), level (243), statistical (97), testing (94).
Hypothesis (1,710): test (183), testing (81), null (38)
Correlation (1,200): analysis (41), causation (20), coefficient (18),
Spurious (252), Causation (249), Margin error (195), Statistical significance (12)
Mean, median (115): See Mean, Median and Mode: Cute! 86,157 views

Stats in Business Schools

Bill Parr (past-President of Making Statistics Effective in Schools of Business and now Professor of Decision Sciences, CEIBS) has started a new Google group: Teaching Statistics in Business Schools. "The purpose of this group is to entertain discussion on the subject of teaching statistics in business schools."

SATS On-Line

Marjorie Bond (Monmouth University) is hosting the Survey of Attitudes Toward Statistics on the web using SurveyMonkey.  This makes handles the linking of pre and post test results by student.  This may require IRB approval but it decreases the chance of instructor access to student identities. For more on SATS, see Schau and Schield.

Statistics/STEM Grants and Projects

NSTPS: Planning and Logistics

In 2008, the NSF awarded Ohio State $66,035 in a CCLI-Phase 1 grant.  Dennis Pearl (right) and Kathleen Harper are co-PIs.  This is one component of a collaborative effort to develop and pilot the National Statistics Teaching Practice Survey (NSTPS). This component is creating a database, a reporting structure and a mechanism for administering the survey online.

NSTPS: Assessment

In 2008 the NSF awarded the U. of Minn. a $71,877 CCLI-Phase 1 grant to fund Advancing of Assessment of Scientific and Quantitative Reasoning.  Joan Garfield  (left) is PI with Robert delMas. This project is ... a collaborative effort to develop and pilot the NSTPS....  This project is ...refining the instrument and working with researchers from other STEM disciplines.

INQUERI: Infrastructure - STEM Research

INQUERI is the INstitute for QUantitative Education Research Infrastructure. "Our mission is to advance the application of scientific research methods to STEM education by establishing an INstitute for QUantitative Education Research Infrastructure in teaching mathematical, biological, engineering, and physical sciences at the college level. Dennis Pearl (OSU) is the INQUERI director.


NSF sponsored WISER-II, Workshop on Infrastructure in STEM Education Research, at Ohio State University (OSU) Feb. 21-22, 2008. The focus is on the integrated development, deployment, and research use of the resulting data for instruments to support assessment efforts. Dennis Pearl (OSU) is project director. The goal is the Database of Assessment for Nationwide Science Education Research (DANSER)

Activities in Large Stat Classes

In 2008, the NSF awarded UCLA $142,615 to fund a CCLI-
Phase 1 grant titled "Teaching and Learning Infrastructure for Introductory Statistics Redesign."  Robert Gould (right) is the PI along with Mahtash Esfandiari. The goal is to encourage students to perform high-level thinking in intro statistics.

"The Introductory Statistics Redesign Infrastructure (ISRI) project is constructing a model for effectively integrating the ASA supported best teaching practices into large, previously lecture-based introductory statistics courses. The project team is developing materials to assist instructors with incorporating active learning techniques in their classes and is developing teaching assistant materials to improve small-group instruction.  Together these...supplements provide a model for teaching an activities-based, learner-centric introductory statistics course."


Journal Articles: Numeracy

Clinical Implications of Numeracy: Theory and Practice by Nelson, Fagerlin, Lipkus and Peters in Annals of Behavioral Medicine V. 35,  Issue 3 June 2008.   "Low numeracy cannot be reliably inferred on the basis of patients' education, intelligence or other observable characteristics. "Numeracy ... is the ability to comprehend, use and attach meaning to numbers." See Assessing Numeracy. 

Does British Sociology Count? Sociology Students' Attitudes toward Quantitative Methods by Malcolm Williams. Sociology Oct2008, Vol. 42 Issue 5, p1003-1021

Numeracy and Communication with Patients: They Are Counting on Us by Andrea Apter. Journal of General Internal Medicine Dec2008, Vol. 23 Issue 12, p2117-2124

Perspective: The Role of Numeracy in Health Care by Russell Rothman, Victor  Montori, Andrea Cherrington and Michael Pignone. Journal of Health Communication Sep2008, Vol. 13 Issue 6, p583-595.

Can we count on written symptom scores: Impact of numeracy on patient access to appropriate healthcare by Timothy Johnson in Journal of the American College of Surgeons Sep2008 Supplement, Vol. 207 Issue 3, pS112-S112.

Journal Articles: Statistical Literacy

The Evolution of Pearson's Correlation Coefficient by Gary Kader and Christine Franklin in Mathematics Teacher Nov. 2008, Vol. 102 Issue 4, p292-299. "Provides a framework for achieving statistical literacy in schools."

Learning to Read the Numbers: A Critical Orientation toward Statistics by Phyllis Whitin and David Whitin in Language Arts Jul. 2008, Vol. 85 Issue 6, p432-441.

The impact of the format of graphical presentation on health-related knowledge and treatment choices by Sarah Hawley in Patient Education & Counseling Dec. 2008, Vol. 73 Issue 3, p448-455.

A Random Walk through Middle Land by Michael Shermer in Scientific American Oct2008, Vol. 299 Issue 4, p40-40.

Statistical Literacy: A Prerequisite for Evidence-Based Medicine by John Monahan, Psychological Science in the Public Interest Nov2007, Vol. 8 Issue 2, pi-ii.

Statistical Literacy for Readers of Pediatrics: A Moving Target by  Hellems, Gurka and Hayden in Pediatrics Jun2007, Vol. 119 Issue 6, p1083-1088

Journal Articles: Quantitative Literacy

Quantitative Literacy for Undergraduate Business Students in the 21st Century by Richard McClure in the Journal of Education for Business Jul/Aug2008, Vol. 83 Issue 6, p369-374. "educators are not adequately preparing business school students in quantitative methods"

Journal Articles: "Quantitative Reasoning"

MEDIA clips in Mathematics Teacher Nov/, 2008, Vol. 102 Issue 4, p272-275.  "A quiz related to authentic applications of quantitative reasoning based on print or electronic media. "


Papers with over 100 views at www.StatLit.org in 2008.

Excludes papers hosted during 2008. Total downloads: 106,035. 

  1. Percentage Graphs in USA Today. Milo Schield 2006 ASA (14,247 viewings)

  2. Quantity Words Without Numbers: Why Students use "Many". Milo Schield 2005 Carleton (2,090)

  3. Presenting Confounding Graphically Using Standardization.
    Milo Schield, 2006 Draft for Stats magazine (1,616)

  4. Numbers in the News: A Survey. Milo & Cynthia Schield, 2007 ASA (1,277)

  5. Statistical Literacy: An Online Course at Capella University. Marc Isaacson (Augsburg College) 2005 ASA (1,202)

  6. Some Difficulties Learning Histograms. Carl Lee & Maria Meletiou-Mavrotheris ASA 2003 (1,179)

  7. People Count: The Social Construction of Statistics.  Joel Best 2002 Presented at Augsburg College (1,087)

  8. Online Program Decoding English Descriptions and Comparisons of Percentages & Rates. Burnham & Schield 2005 ASA (1,070)

  9. Statistical Literacy & Mathematical Thinking. Milo Schield 2000 ICME (997)

  10. Statistical Literacy and Liberal Education at Augsburg College. Milo Schield, 2004 AACU Peer Review (927)

  11. Exploring Simpson's Paradox. Larry Lesser (Univ. Texas, El Paso) NCTM 2001 (913)

  12. Statistical Prevarication: Telling Half Truths Using Statistics. Schield, 2005 IASE (898)

  13. Why Should We Even Teach Statistics? A Bayesian Perspective. Gudmund Iversen, 2000 Tokyo Round Table (790)

  14. Teaching the Social Construction of Statistics,  Milo Schield, 2007 Midwest Sociological Society (754)

  15. Three Paradoxes. Howard Wainer, Nat. Board of Medical Examiners. Draft for The American Statistician 2004 (750)

  16. Frequency of Simpson's Paradox in NAEP Data. Jim Terwilliger & Milo Schield, 2004 AERA (678)

  17. People Count: The Social Construction of Statistics. J. Best 2002 ASA (575)

  18. Including Construction in Quantitative Literacy, Joel Best 2007 MSS (510)

  19. Confounders as Mathematical Objects. Schield & Burnham 2006 MAA (499)

  20. Social Mathematics in US Civics Curriculum. James Mauch dissertation 2005 (470)

  1. Pedagogical Challenges of Quantitative Literacy. Bernie Madison, President of NNN,  2006 ASA (468)

  2. 20 Questions to Ask for Q/R, Neil Lutsky (Carleton), 2006 ASA (437)

  3. Statistical Literacy: An Evangelical Calling for Statistical Educators. Milo Schield, 2005 ISI (304)

  4. Quantitative Reasoning: An Activity-Based Course, Sommers 2007 ASA 6up slides (294)

  5. The Components of Numeracy. Ginsburg, Manly & Schmitt 2006 NCSALL (235)

  6. Statistics for Political Science Majors. Gary Klass 2004 ASA (215)

  7. News Math Course Description and Procedures Bernie Madison, 2005 Univ. Arkansas (214)

  8. Critical areas for assessing skill transfer: Statistics education and PIAAC. Iddo Gal 2007 slides IASE (195)

  9. Statistics for All: Nearer Our Destination or Slip Sliding Away?  Ann Watkins, 2006 USCOTS 6up slides (191)

  10. What do M&M's, Dahlias, Soil Erosion and Data Analysis Across the Curriculum Have in Common? Jerry Moreno, 2006 ASA (158)

  11. Statistical Literacy Textbook, Introduction, Milo Schield 2005 (139)

  12. Three Graphs to Promote Statistical Literacy. Schield 2004 ICME (114)

  13. W. M. Keck Statistical Literacy Course StatLit Course Brochure 2a (103)

As of 12/2008, 468 pdfs hosted. Of these, 248 are slide handouts: *up.pdf.
This 2008 ranking excludes these summary/auxiliary PDFs:

  1. Q/R Textbooks  PDF of StatLit Q/R textbook web-page (1,047)

  2. Percentage Graphs in USA Today, Milo Schield 2006 ASA 6up slides (824)

  3. S/R Textbooks  PDF of the Statistical Reasoning textbook web-page (163)

This 2008 ranking excludes papers hosted during 2008.

  1. Just Plain Data Analysis: Common Statistical Fallacies in Analyses of Social Indicator Data. Gary Klass (Illinois State University) 2008 ASA (499)

  2. LexisNexis Statistical Data Sets. Daniel Coyle 2008 NNN 6up slides (174)

  3. Analyzing Numbers in the News: A Structured Approach. Milo Schield 2008 NNN (169)

  4. Statistical Significance of Ranking Paradoxes by Raymond Greenwell 2009 MAA (147)

  5. Mathematics Across the Curriculum: Inspiration & Resources (and Opportunities), Rebecca Hartzler 2008 “MAC & QR - Multiple Collegiate Models” Borough of Manhattan Community College (142)


Top 20 StatLit Web Pages Viewed at www.StatLit.org in 2008.  (### of page views)   Voluntary page views: 63,926 - a 31% increase from 2007
  1. Welcome (10,423, 25%):  Home/Index page. Site overview.

  2. Joel Best (3,118, 7%): Author of "More Damned Lies & Statistics"

  3. StatLit Papers (2,444, 6%): Papers, articles or slide presentations.

  4. Q/L Textbooks (2,387, 6%): Details on Q/R or Q/L textbooks.

  5. Gerald Bracey (2,035, 5%): Author of "Reading Educational Research"

  6. Adult Numeracy (1,987, 4%): News on adult numeracy projects.

  7. Howard Wainer (1,966, 5%):  Author of "A Tout in the Milk".

  8. StatLit News 2007 (1,928, 5%):  Stat-Lit News from 2007.

  9. Standardizing (1,718, 4%): Excel graph illustrates standardizing.

  10. StatLit Books (1,680, 4%): List of over 300 Stat-Lit related books.

  11. John Paulos (1,669, 4%):  Author of "Numeracy".

  12. StatLit News 2006 (1,523, 4%):  Stat-Lit News from 2006.

  13. Gerd Gigerenzer (1,503, 3%):  Author of "Calculated Risks"

  1. Q/L Books (1,459, 3%):  Details on Q/L-related books (not texts).

  2. Q/L Activities (1,378, 3%): Details on Q/L-related activities.

  3. Dennis Haack (1,276, 3%):  Author of "Statistical Literacy" 1979.

  4. StatLit News 2004 (1,183, 3%): Stat-Lit News from 2004.

  5. StatLit News 2003 (715, 2%): Stat-Lit News from 2003.

  6. StatLit News 2005 (686, 2%):  Stat-Lit News from 2005.

  7. Numeracy books (502, 2%) 

Navigation page views totaled 8,474: Statistical Literacy (2,100), StatLit News (1,863), Authors (1,860),  Statistical Reasoning (1,425) and Numeracy (1,226).

Other pages include Statistical Reasoning Textbooks (462, 2%)  and Statistical Reasoning books (142).

Student-assigned (involuntary) pages views (/GC) totaled 5,548. These included the grammar-checker programs (SLRSV.aspx) with 3,374 views and the Part-Whole program (PartWholeImages.aspx) with 2,169 views.  


Top 20 terms in search referrals to www.StatLit.org.
Search referrals (2008; 2007)
References shown are likely targets. 
  1. Joel Best (1,147; 594): See Joel Best author page. [Could be Billie Joel]

  2. USA Today graphs (654; 634): Schield Percentage Graphs in USA Today

  3. Quantity words (547; 264): See Schield, Why Students Use 'Many'?

  4. Statistical Literacy (385; 249): See Statistical Literacy.

  5. Howard Wainer (340; 110): See Howard Wainer author page.

  6. Gerald Bracey (214; 94): See Gerald Bracey author page.

  7. Standardiz... (100; 131):  Schield, Adjusting for Confounding Graphically.

  8. Lord Paradox (67; 126): See Wainer's article, Three Paradoxes.

  9. Math across curriculum (60): See Numeracy

  10. Simpson Paradox (59; 54): Schield, "Adjust for Confounding Graphically".

  11. Standardizing (59):   Schield, Adjusting for Confounding Graphically.

  12. StatLit (57, 24):  See this site.  

  1. Histograms interpreting (50): 

  2. Percentage graphs (48; 44):  See Schield, Percentage Graphs in USA Today.

  3. Statistics research (46; 95): See StatLit Tools page.

  4. numeracy (39): See Numeracy

  5. quantitative reasoning (33):  See Numeracy or Q/L

  6. PIACC (30)

  7. Percentage Tables (26): See Schield, Reading Tables of Rates & Percents.

  8. rethinking mathematics teaching (20)

Each month, LiveStats ranks the search terms used and captures the top 20 with the associated number of referrals.  In 2008, this generated 85 unique search terms with 4,176 visits (plus 13,918 Other) for a total of 18,094 total search referrals. These 85 search terms were grouped by search phrase  (so 'standardizing' and 'standardized' were counted together) into 40 groups.   Note that these numbers are very sensitive to how search terms are grouped into search phrases.  Note that 77% of the search referrals are tabulated under Other.


Google ranking (12/2008) of the www.StatLit.org web site. 

When multiple words are shown, they are searched as a phrase.

#1:  Statistical literacy, Joel Best, Howard Wainer, Bernie Madison, quantity words, data literacy, chance grammar

#2:  USA Today graphs, Dennis Hack, interpreting doublespeak, statistical doublespeak, statistical standardization, statistical prevarication

#3:  Gerald Bracey, standardizing, percentage graphs, multivariate thinking

#5:  John Paulos

Top 10: journalistic significance (6), percentage grammar (7)

Top 30: innumeracy (12), statistically literate (14), statistical reasoning (17), confounding (19), statistical illiteracy (20),  Gigerenzer (21), statistical paradoxes (22), statistically illiterate (23), quantitative Literacy (24), confounding (28).

Top 100: quantitative literacy (31), numeracy (38), quantitative reasoning (43); critical thinking, induction statistics (44); confounder (57; 131), social construction (64), statistical education (75), Simpson's paradox (82; 288), Lynn [Arthur] Steen (95).

This site ranks #4 for Milo Schield but was not in the first 1,000 for spurious, standardization, confounded, confound, "health literacy" or "health numeracy."

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This site was last updated 06/11/13 To do: fix Excel Standardization pages