Summary Statistics Tell You Little About the Big Picture

Mean, median, and mode. These are the first things you learn about in your introductory statistics course. It’s often all you hear about when you see data in the news. People form policies for populations, based on the generalized numbers.

However, these summary statistics can only tell you so much about a dataset, which means you can only learn a limited amount about what the data represents — the people, places, and things.

If you’re the one who consumes the data, you should wonder what the means and medians actually represent. If you’re the one who analyzes the data, spend time with the most granular that time and resources allow for. Something more interesting will almost always come out of it.

Become a member. Support an independent site. Make great charts.

Join Now

Favorites

Reviving the Statistical Atlas of the United States with New Data

Due to budget cuts, there is no plan for an updated atlas. So I recreated the original 1870 Atlas using today’s publicly available data.

Shifts in How Couples Meet, Online Takes the Top

How do couples meet now and how has it changed over the years? Watch the rankings play out over six decades.

Data, R, and a 3-D Printer

We almost always look at data through a screen. It’s quick and good for exploration. So is there value in making data physical? I played around with a 3-D printer to find out.

Divorce Rates for Different Groups

We know when people usually get married. We know who never marries. Finally, it’s time to look at the other side: divorce and remarriage.