Thursday, 28 May 2009

I am above average

Seeing as this is Paul's blog, I guess I should start with a post about maths. That will make the old chap happy, and also make my head hurt a little. Here goes....
If I ask you what the likelihood is that the next person who speaks to you today has an above average number of legs, I imagine you may say something along the lines of "not bloody likely". However, you would be WRONG. The vast majority of us have an above average number of legs.
How so I hear you say?
Well - lets say for simplicity's sake that a desert island has 500 inhabitants. 499 of these people have 2 legs. However, a retired pirate sporting a peg leg also lives there. This makes a total of 999 legs on our fictional island.
So the average number of legs is 999/500 (legs/people) = 1.99 legs

There you have it me hearties. The moral of the story: always look at the figures! If you want a better explanation, check out asymmetric distributions:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Wobegon_effect#Asymmetric_distributions

Are you bored yet?

1 comment:

paulsc said...

Excellent. The average distance walked by people in this country is 0.91 miles (see this). I have walked close to twenty miles over the past three days. Does that mean I have condemned some people to not walking at all in order to keep the average at 0.91 miles?