Statistically Speaking..

Yesterday I woke up at 3:30, because I was excited about picking up my kids from camp. To pass the time I logged on to TED to check out more talks and (I never thought I’d utter this sentence), “I’m really digging the statistical analysis talks by doctor and international health professor, Hans Rosling, regarding world poverty and debunking third world myths”.

Seriously.

I like empirical evidence and statistically significant results and although becoming a statistic is bad, understanding them is good and being an informed consumer of them is even better. Hans Rosling developed a software program that makes statistics less static and brings them to life. His charts are moving images that, if you’re a more visual learner like me, help you to better understand and ultimately use the free statistical information that’s out there.

I’m not good with facts and figures. If you start spouting out numbers, measurements, dates or times and look closely at me, my eyes will start to glaze over. But show me pictures and my brain has half a chance at filing the information away in my memory bank. Show me a moving image and you’ve doubled my retention rate. Lucky for me, technology has finally caught up to the needs of my brain (or I’ve watch way too much TV in my lifetime and trained my brain to need images to function – who knows).

Just this morning I learned that their’s a fairly proportional relationship between health and wealth across the globe. However, often times, in many parts of the world, health proceeds wealth. The statistics showed how the other parts of the world are gaining on us (can you say China) in terms of both health and wealth. Another interesting tidbit, is how third world countries have improved their life expectancy by decreasing family size and how this translated to improving their wealth and earning potential.

In Africa this is extremely important because making $1 a day isn’t all that different, functionally speaking, then making $7 a day because once you get home from work you’re still going to have to cook over a flame and shit outside. But make as little as $10 a day and you jump to a lifestyle complete with indoor plumbing and appliances.

I bring this up because before we know it, it’ll be convention time here in the US and we’ll be inundated with politicians and their promises, not to mention all of the pontificating pundits telling us how to think about everything that is said. Maybe instead you should let the statistics guide you as you determine your position on universal health care, birth control, abstinence only programs and ways to improve our economy. It really is quite fascinating and eye opening.

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2 responses to “Statistically Speaking..

  1. Throw contraception and women’s rights into the mix and it gets even more interesting, though desired family size is not always simply related to economics, but also to culture, religion, etc, as are women;s rights.

    Great post – have put these video lectures onto my must do” list.

    I get a week to myself in August, when both kids and husband are gone. The trick will be to keep myself from using it all up y staying late at the office…

  2. If you go to:
    http://www.gapminder.org and then click on “gapminder world” you can manipulate the data regarding a lot of what you mentioned and play around with the graphing. It’s pretty cool.

    Enjoy your week off. What I did to ensure some fun:
    1. Got as much done as possible BEFORE they left.
    2. Planned for my work days in the start of the week, which made me work harder and faster.
    3. Planned my “off” days – i.e., made plans, put dates/times on the calendar, etc so that people were expecting me and I’d have to stop the work and have some fun.

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