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Statistics Hacks by Bruce Frey

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Chapter 3. Measuring the World

Hacks 23-34

There is great value in understanding phenomena by hanging a quantity on it. Though sometimes a something important is lost in the translation from idea to number, creating scores to represent whatever we are interested in does allow for a level of precision in understanding, and it also allows for comparison. These hacks all involve measurement and interpretation of scores.

A whole family of hacks relies on the normal distribution [Hack #23] and its presence everywhere we look. With the normal curve, you can tell where you stand compared to everyone else [Hack #24], know how you are likely to perform on a test before you even take it [Hack #25], and understand your test results at a deeper level [Hacks #26 and #27].

Speaking of testing, you'll learn how to produce a good set of questions [Hack #28] and make a quality test [Hacks #31 and #32]. You can identify bad items, worthless questions, and do well on a test without knowing the answers [Hack #29]. You can also improve your test performance without cracking a single book [Hack #30].

Finally, by learning a couple of solid measurement principles, you can determine the lifespan of an era, person, or business [Hack #33] and also learn how to use medical information [Hack #34] to maybe increase your own lifespan.

Measure by measure, here is a whole chapter full of measurement hacks.

Hack #23. See the Shape of Everything

Almost everything in the natural world is distributed in the same way. As long ...

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