What are Statistics?


Learning Objectives

  1. Describe the range of applications of statistics
  2. Identify situations in which statistics can be misleading
  3. Define "Statistics"

Statistics are facts and figures. For instance:

  • The largest earthquake measured 9.2 on the Richter scale.
  • Men are at least 10 times more likely than women to commit murder.
  • One in every 8 South Africans is HIV positive.
  • By the year 2020, there will be 15 people aged 65 and over for every new baby born.

However, statistics are not only facts and figures; they are something more than that. In the broadest sense, "statistics" refers to a range of techniques and procedures for analyzing, interpreting, displaying, and making decisions based on data.