Statistics, which makes many people’s teeth hurt upon hearing or seeing the word, is a helpful science, when used correctly and cautiously.
Statistics allow us to take large amounts of information about people, events, or things, and convert that data into more understandable pictures of what is most and least likely.
Here’s some basic statistical terms, with my homegrown and completely unauthorized notions about what they mean:
AVERAGE … Probably the most commonly known term of all and somewhat meaningless, since it can represent several of the other terms here, such as means and medians.
We often refer to ourselves as “average”, while thinking of ourselves as “special” or “above average”:)
MEAN … One way to tell us what “average” is, even if nobody actually fits the contextual definition … as some are wont to say, the average person does not exist. The mathematical average may or may not have anyone actually there.
MEDIAN … The “middle” value in a list – The value which is exactly greater than half of the total population.
MODE … Modes make distribution curves possible. The most often appearing value in a list, which appears as a “bump” when put into a graph format.
Of course, many other statistical terms exist and exist and are in use, hopefully by those who more clearly understand them than I.
So a list of 100 people might represent values which ascend or descend, depending on which end you start with OR be a list with a great big pile in the middle and dropping off toward each end, OR represent two vastly different groups of fifty people each OR … well, you get the point.
HOWEVER, THIS IS NOT ABOUT THOSE KIND OF STATISTICS …
Having recently spent some time considering possibilities and likelihoods, thinking about alternatives and best choices, and generally thinking about things, I have come to some realizations:
THE ONLY STATISTIC THAT REALLY MATTER IS YOU …
No matter how many others have experienced what you are experiencing, your experience is unique because it is happening to you.
The average, mean, mode, and median means nothing when your experience is different.
Where you personally land on a distribution chart is significant for you and you alone.
You decide the relevance of averages and distributions, based on your personal beliefs, experiences, attitudes, values, and hopes.
You can’t chart that …
Paying close attention only to my personal statistics in the Heartland ….
For more than most of us will ever need to know about statistical terms and what they mean in a formal or academic sense, The University of California at Berkeley definition list is the source I consulted to make sure I was not committing gross negligence or outright error in the discussion above.
Image: Poisson Probability Mass Function graph by Skbkekas – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9447142. I have no idea what this graph means.