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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Many Students Misinterpreted the Data in Did You Know?

Map of China and India
Many students interpreted the data in my version of Did You Know? as demonstrating that students in the United States were behind, or inferior to, students in India or China.

Lets take a look at the data. One slide reads: "The 25% of the population in India with the highest IQs outnumbers the ENTIRE population of the United States." What is the population of India? What is the population of the United States? While we are at it, what is the population of China? Do this: Go to WolframAlpha (There is also an app for Android or Apple phones and iPads or tablets which you can use if you prefer). Do a search for Compare Populations of India, China and the United States. What do you find? You will be asked to report on this in a Special Blog Assignment that I will post later today.

Another slide reports: It is estimated that 18 million Chinese speak English now and 300 million are learners. If we add these two numbers what do we get? The next point on the slide reads "So...if the "learners" do learn English there will be more people in China speaking English than the ENTIRE population of the United States." And what is the population of the United States?

Back to India. One slide reads "Let's assume ... the best 25% of K-12 students [in India] are designated Honors Students." The next slide reads "Then ... India has more K-12 Honors students than ALL of the K-12 students in the United States." Why is it easy for us to come to this conclusion? Because India has four times as many people as the does the United States. It is all a matter of the size of the population!

When you encounter data you must keep your brain on and think clearly about what those data really mean.

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