I’m very much an empirical, data, statistics, and science type of guy. So, it might be a surprise to learn that I’ve gone ghost hunting a number of times. Now, I’m not a paranormal enthusiast. I’m definitely a skeptic. However, in my view, being skeptical about something does not preclude collecting data about it. I also have friends I trust completely who are sure they’ve experienced paranormal activity. Plus, I don’t need much of an excuse to try something new and unusual! [Read more…] about Ghost Hunting with a Statistics Mindset

# Fun

## Answering the Birthday Problem in Statistics

The Birthday Problem in statistics asks, how many people do you need in a group to have a 50% chance that at least two people will share a birthday? Go ahead and think about that for a moment. The answer surprises many people. We’ll get to that shortly.

In this post, I’ll not only answer the birthday paradox, but I’ll also show you how to calculate the probabilities for any size group, run a computer simulation of it, and explain why the answer to the Birthday Problem is so surprising. [Read more…] about Answering the Birthday Problem in Statistics

## Luck and Statistics: Do You Feel Lucky, Punk?

Luck, statistics, and probabilities go together hand-in-hand. Clint Eastwood, playing Dirty Harry, famously asked a bad guy who was about to reach for his rifle whether he felt lucky. I’m quite sure that the crook carefully pondered the nature of luck, probabilities, and expected outcomes before deciding not to grab his rifle!

A while ago, I did something shocking . . . something that I hadn’t done for several decades. Just like the thief in the Dirty Harry movie, I started thinking about luck. Yes, you guessed it: I bought a lottery ticket for the record-breaking Mega Millions Jackpot. This purchase *is* shocking for someone like me who knows statistics and is fully aware of how unlikely it is to win. Did I feel lucky? Or was I just a punk? [Read more…] about Luck and Statistics: Do You Feel Lucky, Punk?

## Statistics, Old Love Letters, and Changing Times

Have you ever seen your present reflected in an object from the past? This summer I’ve discovered glimpses of my daily life working with statistical software in words written more than 70 years ago. Bear with me because this blog post takes the scenic route to arrive at modern statistics. [Read more…] about Statistics, Old Love Letters, and Changing Times

## Lessons in Quality During a Long and Strange Journey Home

Back in January of 2014, I didn’t expect that our family trip to Florida would end with me driving a plane load of passengers nearly 200 miles to their homes, but it did. [Read more…] about Lessons in Quality During a Long and Strange Journey Home

## As a Statistician, Can I Say Age is Just a Number?

My last birthday wasn’t one of those difficult ages that end with a zero. Thank goodness! However, the passage of another year got me thinking. At that point, I told myself that age is just a number. Can you do a mental double-take? I think I did one. Can a statistician say that age is *just* a number? After all, it’s through numbers that statisticians understand the world and how it works. [Read more…] about As a Statistician, Can I Say Age is Just a Number?

## World Travel, Rough Roads, and Manually Adjusting Graph Scales!

As my family and I were being rattled around in a four-wheel drive vehicle in the remote Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica, it struck me that traveling to exotic locations is just like manually adjusting the scales on graphs! That’s probably not what you were expecting, but let me explain! Unlike most of my statistical blog posts, this one gets a bit philosophical! [Read more…] about World Travel, Rough Roads, and Manually Adjusting Graph Scales!

## When is Easter this Year?

When is Easter in 2024? I ask this question every year! The next Easter occurs on March 31, 2024. And then, in the next year, Easter falls on April 20, 2025. I have a hard time remembering when it occurs in any given year. I think that March Easters are both early and unusual. Is that true?

Being a statistician, my first thought is to study the distribution of Easter dates. By analyzing the distribution, we can determine which dates are rare and which are common. How unusual are Easter dates in March? Are there patterns in the dates? [Read more…] about When is Easter this Year?

## How Probability Theory Can Help You Find More Four-Leaf Clovers

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! This holiday got me thinking about four-leaf clovers and probability theory. Now, I know that four-leaf clovers are *not* Shamrocks. And, it is shamrocks that are actually associated with St. Patrick’s Day. A shamrock is a young patch of *three-leaf* white clover that grows in winter. Nonetheless, the holiday started me thinking about four-leaf clovers and probabilities. [Read more…] about How Probability Theory Can Help You Find More Four-Leaf Clovers

## Statistics, Exoplanets, and the Search for Earthlike Planets

I love astronomy! The discovery of thousands of exoplanets has made it only more exciting. You often hear about the really weird planets in the news. You know, things like low density puffballs, hot Jupiters, rogue planets, planets that orbit their star in hours, and even a Jupiter mass planet that is one huge diamond! As neat as these discoveries are, I also want to know how Earth fits in. [Read more…] about Statistics, Exoplanets, and the Search for Earthlike Planets

## The Monty Hall Problem: A Statistical Illusion

Who would’ve thought that an old TV game show could inspire a statistical problem that has tripped up mathematicians and statisticians with Ph.Ds? The Monty Hall problem has confused people for decades. In the game show, Let’s Make a Deal, Monty Hall asks you to guess which closed door a prize is behind. The answer is so puzzling that people often refuse to accept it! The problem occurs because our statistical assumptions are incorrect.

[Read more…] about The Monty Hall Problem: A Statistical Illusion