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So often, just one number is not only not enough, it’s positively misleading. We often see statistics quoted that, say, the average number of children per family is 1.8. First off, what sort of average? Mean, median or mode?  It makes a difference. But really, the problem is that a mean (or median or mode) […] Read more

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I found these interesting: Kaprekar’s constant — not everything has to be useful to be appealing and fun. Apparently the Roman Empire was more equal than the USA, while in Britain income inequality rose faster between 1975 and 2008 than in any other OECD member country. How to get your keys back if you drop them down […] Read more

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Numbers are often perceived as a sign of respectability. Press releases often include them — it seems so much more believable to say 75.4% of people do such-and-such than to say many or even most people. Quote a specific percentage and people tend to believe it. The trouble is, the numbers we see in the press […] Read more

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Some things that have recently struck me in one way or another: Literary references to actuaries aren’t that common Some interesting graphical representations of relative sizes from xkcd: money (recent) and radiation (older). And from elsewhere: how big is a PhD? Old news is the latest thing US/UK culture gap: “Like most US universities, [UC […] Read more

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Some things I’ve found interesting: Have you seen those Google ads on the tube? The example they give of a strong password isn’t so strong after all. It’s always worth checking the statistics. The important field – as usual with xkcd, make sure you read the alt-text Language is not writing, and some myths that […] Read more

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Laptops can contain confidential information, and are inherently less secure than large machines: it is easier to take physical possession of them. Nationwide building society recently had one stolen that contained customer information; and 3 laptops containing police payroll information were stolen from LogicaCMG, the UK IT services firm. You have to wonder whether it […] Read more

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