I’ve long been interested in the phenomenon of statistical literacy – that is, the ability understand (or misunderstand) statistical information, especially information dealing with probability.
This USA Today article illustrates this phenomenon:
When your local weather forecaster announces that there is a 30% chance of rain tomorrow, not everyone knows what that means.
Some think it means 30% of an area will get rain. Others think it will rain for 30% of the day. In fact, of all the forecast terms used by meteorologists, this remains one of the most baffling to the public.
Some people don’t understand that the forecaster simply means there’s a 30% probability it will rain at some point during the day. Susan Joslyn, a senior lecturer in the psychology department at theUniversity of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues have been studying such confusion.
More information on statisical literacy can be found here.