Lloyd Tabb

Averages are one-dimensional vanity metrics. Without context, they leave out the why.

A Refresher on Regression Analysis

You probably know by now that whenever possible you should be making data-driven decisions at work. But do you know how to parse through all of the data available to you? The good news is that you likely don’t have to do the number crunching yourself (hallelujah!) but you do need to correctly understand and interpret the analysis created by your colleagues. One of the … [ Read more ]

James Guszcza, David Steier, John Lucker, Vivekanand Gopalkrishnan, Harvey Lewis

The same body of psychological research that underpins behavioral economics also suggests that we are very poor natural statisticians. We are naturally prone to find spurious information in data where none exists, latch on to causal narratives that are unsupported by sketchy statistical evidence, ignore population base rates when estimating probabilities for individual cases, be overconfident in our judgments, and generally be “fooled by randomness.” … [ Read more ]

What to Ask Your “Numbers People”

If you’re a manager working with the analysts in your organization to make more data-driven business decisions, asking good questions should be one of your top priorities. Many managers fear that asking questions will make them appear unintelligent about quantitative matters. However, if you ask the right kinds of questions, you can both appear knowledgeable and advance the likelihood of a good decision outcome.

Aaron Levenstein

Statistics are like a bikini. What they reveal is suggestive; what they conceal is vital.

Gregg Easterbrook

Torture numbers, and they will confess to anything.

Michael E. Raynor, Mumtaz Ahmed and Andrew D. Henderson

Studying even the right tail of a distribution doesn’t tell you how to break free of the distribution. In short, if you want to use inferential methods to get outside the box, you have to look at someone who is outside the box!

To see the importance of this step in the analysis, ask yourself this question: If two firms in the same industry had differences … [ Read more ]

The Black Swan: A Terrific Read for Executives

When this regular Ivey Business Journal contributor recommends a certain book, executives can be assured that they will derive value from the book. Even if it is a black swan.

Irrational Expectations

Predictive analytics is emerging as a practical discipline, one that can help business leaders make better decisions. In a world whose complexity in many respects has moved beyond our cognitive abilities, numbers are nothing to fear. In fact, they may be your greatest ally.

The Statistician Who Ate Humble Pie

Why are business and economic forecasts so often wrong, and why can’t they be improved? In a new feature from s+b — Author’s Choice — leading writers select and introduce passages from notable books. In this piece, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, introduces an engaging lesson in business forecasting from Dance with Chance: Making Luck Work … [ Read more ]

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

The field of statistics is based on something called the law of large numbers: as you increase your sample size, no single observation is going to hurt you. Sometimes that works. But the rules are based on classes of distribution that don’t always hold in our world.

All statistics come from games. But our world doesn’t resemble games. We don’t have dice that can deliver. Instead … [ Read more ]

Introduction To Simulation

Simulations study the interaction of random variables in a business process over time – how many customers might walk in the door at any moment, the return on an upcoming advertising campaign, the chance of your information system going down – and use the results to improve business policies. This article provides an overview of simulation and shows how it’s particularly useful for learning about … [ Read more ]

Dr. Neil Postman

We must keep in mind the story of the statistician who drowned while trying to wade across a river with an average depth of four feet. That is to say, in a culture that reveres statistics, we can never be sure what sort of nonsense will lodge in people’s heads.

DSS Market Researcher’s Toolkit

DSS has gathered some of the more useful market research tools (Sample Size Calculator, Sample Error Calculators, Statistical Power Calculator) here, along with some general research white papers and Internet resources.

Five Guidelines for Using Statistics

Do statistics tell the entire story? Managers must make effective use of the numbers they generate. Here are five tips to help ensure that you can rely on the numbers.

Seymour Tilles

Averages hide more than they disclose.

Web Interface for Statistics Education (WISE)

The goal of this project “is to provide easy entry to Internet resources that can be used in support of statistics education and applications,” especially in the social sciences. The site features interactive statistics tutorials, statistics applets, and links to glossaries, journals, and other related statistics sites.


Statistics are like a bikini. What they reveal is suggestive; what they conceal is vital.