ID1 (9 out of 10 Seniors Recommend this Freshman Seminar: Statistics in the Real World)

Pomona College -- Fall 2010

TuTh 11-12:15, Millikan 211


Office Hours: Mon 1:30-3:30p, Wed 9:30-11:30a


            ID1 Intern: Kate Brieger


Office Hours:  Sun 7-9p, Millikan 209 (math lounge)



Week 1

8/31     No Class – Convocation

9/2       Introductory stuff, syllabus, webpage info

Randomness & Variability


Week 2



Tversky, A.,  & Kahneman, D. (1974). Judgment under uncertainty: heuristics and biases.  Science, vol 185, pgs 1124-1131. (electronic journals)

▪ Utts, J. (2005). Psychological influences on personal probability (chp 17).  Seeing Through Statistics. (Huntley)

Mlodinow. (2005). Peering through the Eyepiece of Randomness.  The Drunkard’s Walk. (Sakai)




▪ Utts, J. (2005). When intuition differs from relative frequency (chp 18).  Seeing Through Statistics. (Huntley)

Berry, S. Statistical fallacies in sports. (Sakai)

▪ Lewis, M. Moneyball (Sakai)

▪ James, B.,  Albert, J.,  and Stern, H.  Answering questions about baseball using statistics” (Sakai)


Paulos, J.A. (1997).  Asbestos removal closes NYC schools.  A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper. (Huntley)

Paulos, J.A. (1997).  Harvard psychiatrist believes patient abducted by aliens.  A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper. (Huntley)

Paulos, J.A. (1997).  761 calories, 428 mgs. Sodium, 22.6 grams of fat per serving.  A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper. (Huntley)

Paulos, J.A. (1997).  Stallone on worst-dressed list.  A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper. (Huntley)

Paulos, J.A. (1997). Darts trounce the pros.  A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper. (Huntley)

Paulos, J.A. (1997). Near perfect game for Roger Clemens.  A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper. (Huntley)



J.B. Landers ©, from

9/7       Discussion

            Due: Informal paper #1 (assignments)


            Ecclesiastes 9.11


I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.


9/9       Discussion( Utsav Kothari / Jack LaTourette )


Week 3



▪ Bernstein, P. The failure of invariance.  Against the Gods. (Sakai)

▪ Maloney, R. Inflexible logic. (Sakai)

▪ Cole, K.C. Calculated risks.  The Universe and the Teacup. (Sakai)




▪ Stoppard, T.  Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead (Sakai)

▪ Calvino, I. How much shall we bet?  Cosmicomics. (Sakai)

J.B. Landers ©, from


9/14     Discussion(  Jack LaTourette /  Sam Kaplan )


9/16     Discussion( Dot Silverman / Utsav Kothani  )


Week 4



▪ Borges, J.L.  The Babylon lottery. Ficciones. (Sakai)      




▪ Dostoevsky, F.  The Gambler (Huntley)




9/21     Discussion(  Taylor Beckwith-Ferguson / Nickelle Raschick  )

Due: Informal paper #2 (assignments)  - No talking points due this day


9/23     Discussion(  Hyomin Jeon / Clara Xie   )

            Peer review: Intro & Bullet points (in class)








Week 5



Magic Town (Jimmy Stewart, comedy, shown in class with pizza)




▪ Bernstein, P. The remarkable notions of the remarkable notions man.  Against the Gods. (Sakai)  [Note: some of you read this for week 3 because the readings were mixed up on Sakai.  They are now in the correct folders.]

▪ Utts, J., (2005) How to get a good sample (chp 4).  Seeing Through Statistics. (Huntley)

▪ Bryson, M. (1976).  The Literary Digest Poll: making of a statistical myth”. The American Statistician, vol 30 (no 4), pages 184-185. (electronic journals, library’s website) 

▪ Huff, D. (1982). The sample with the built in bias.  How to Lie with Statistics.  (Sakai)

Radwin, D. (October 5, 2009). High Response Rates Don’t Ensure Survey Accuracy.  The Chronicle of Higher Education.  (Sakai)


J.B. Landers ©, from


9/27     Due Monday 5pm: Intro & main ideas, paper #1 (assignments)


9/28     Magic Town & Pizza


9/30     Discussion( Richard Yannow / Dot Silverman   )

9/30     Due Thursday, 5pm: comments on 3 other Intro & main ideas, paper #1 (assignments)





Week 6


▪ Utts, J. (2005). Measurements, mistakes, and misunderstandings (chp 3).  Seeing Through Statistics. (Huntley)

▪ Harris, R., & Monaco, G.  (1978).  Psychology of pragmatic implicaton: information processing between the lines. Journal of Experimental Psychology, vol 107 (no 1), pages 1-22. (Sakai)

Gladwell, M. Blink, chapter 2.1 (Sakai)

▪ Tracking public opinion is a delicate blend of science, art”, LA Times, 10/4/2005 (Sakai)

Paulos, J. A. (1997) Which way Mecca?  A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper. (Huntley)

Paulos, J. A. (1997) Iraqi death toll unknown.  A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper. (Huntley)

Grimshaw, S., Christensen, H., Magleby, D., Patterson, K.  (2004).  Twenty years of the Utah Colleges Exit Poll: learning by doing. Chance, vol 17,32-38. (Sakai)

Ratledge, E. (2006).  The anatomy of a preelection poll.  Statistics, a Guide to the Unknown (Sakai)

▪ Kyle, S., Samuelson, D., Scheuren, F., & Vicinanza, N.  (2007). Explaining discrepancies between official votes and exit polls in the 2004 presidential election.  Chance, vol 20, pages 36-47. (Sakai)

Scheuren, F. and Alvey, W. (2008).  Elections and Exit Polling, selections to do with exit polling. (Sakai)

J.B. Landers ©, from



10/5     Discussion( Salman Akhtar / Travis Bowers  )

   NPR story on Iraqi death count   (media article for Tuesday)

   (This American Life, Nov 3, 2006, “What’s in a Number?” Act One: Truth, Damn Truth, and Statistics & Act Three: The War this Time, ~23 min long)


10/7     Discussion( Dylan Goodman / Taylor Beckwith-Ferguson )


Week 7


Lampone, V. (2009). A Quick Guide to Online Data Quality: Ensuring high-quality data from panel research.  STATS, the magazine for students of statistics, vol 51,  pgs 5-9. (Sakai)

Lavrakas, P., Shuttles, C., Steeh, C., and Fienberg, H. (2007).  The State of Surveying Cell Phone Numbers in the United States.  Public Opinion Quarterly, vol 71, pgs 840-854. (Sakai)

Scheuren, F. and Alvey, W. (2008).  Elections and Exit Polling, selections to do with cell phones. (Sakai)



Library Day: meet in Andrew 257



10/12   Discussion(  Travis Bowers / Daniela Meza   )


10/14   Library Orientation


How to Lie with Graphics


Week 8



  Utts, J. (2005). Plots, Graphs, and Pictures (chp 9).  Seeing Through Statistics. (Huntley)


  Huff, D. (1982). The Gee-Whiz Graph & The One Dimensional Picture.  How to Lie with Statistics.  (Sakai)


  Tufte, E. (1997).  Visual and Statistical Thinking: displays of evidence for making decisions. (Sakai)





10/19 – No Class – Fall Break



10/21   Discussion(  Allison Boden / Salman Akhtar  )




Statistical Diagnoses



Week 9


Senn, S. Dicing with Death, chapters 6, 11 (Sakai) [Note: as you are reading, feel free to skim over the parts with formulas and calculations]

▪ Utts, J. (2005) Experiments and observational studies (chp 5).  Seeing Through Statistics. (Huntley)

  • Meier P. (1989)  The biggest public health experiment ever: the 1954 field trial of the Salk poliomyelitis vaccine.  Statistics: A Guide to the Unknown, 3rd edition.  The Joint Committee on the Curriculum in Statistics and Probability of the American Statistical Association and the National council of Teachers of Mathematics.  Duxbury Press: Belmont, California. (Sakai)



▪ Utts, J. (2005). Relationships Between Categorical Variables (chp 12.1-12.3).  Seeing Through Statistics. (Huntley)

Paulos, J.A. (1997) Ranking health risks: experts and laymen differ. A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper. (Huntley)

  • Gould SJ.  The median isn’t the message.  CancerGuide: Statistics. 
  • Furedi A.  (1999).  The public health implications of the 1995 ‘pill scare.’  Human Reproductive Update.  5, 621-626.

▪ Most science studies appear to be tainted by sloppy analysis. The Wall Street Journal, September 14, 2007 (Sakai)

▪ Switzer, S. and Horton, N.  (2007). What your doctor should know about statistics (but perhaps doesn’t…). Chance, vol  20 (number 1), pages 17-21. (Sakai)

  • Windish DM, Huot SJ, Green ML.  (2007).  Medicine residents’ understanding of the biostatistics and results in the medical literature.  JAMA.  298:9, 1010-1017.  American Medical Association.  5 September 2007. 


J.B. Landers ©, from


10/26   Discussion( Lauren Boden / Dylan Goodman )



10/28   Discussion(  Nickelle Raschick / Robert McElwaine  )



Week 10


 ▪     Rossouw, J.  (1996).  Estrogens for prevention of coronary heart disease.  Circulation, vol 94, pages 2982-2985. (electronic journals)

  • Stephen Hulley, MD; Deborah Grady, MD; Trudy Bush, PhD; Curt Furberg, MD, PhD; David Herrington, MD; Betty Riggs, MD; Eric Vittinghoff, PhD; for the Heart and Estrogen/progestin Replacement Study (HERS) Research Group.  (1998).  Randomized Trial of Estrogen Plus Progestin for Secondary Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease in Postmenopausal Women.  JAMA. 280(7): 605-613. (electronic journals)
  • Stefanick, Cochrane, Hsia, Barad, Liu, Johnson.  (2003).  The Women’s Health Initiative Postmenopausal Hormone Trials: overview and baseline characteristics of participants.  Annals of Epidemiology, vol 13, pages S78-S86.  (electronic journals)
  • Bain C, Willett W, Hennekens CH, Rosner B, Belanger C, Speizer FE. Use of postmenopausal hormones and risk of myocardial infarction. Circulation. 1981 Jul;64(1):42-6. (electronic journals)


§         Taubes, G. (September 16, 2007).  Do we really know what makes us healthy?   The New York Times. (Sakai)

§         Abramson, J. (2005). A Case in Point: the Saga of Hormone Replacement Therapy.  Overdo$ed America. (Sakai)

§         Hersh AL, Stefanick ML, Stafford RS. (2004).  National use of postmenopausal hormone therapy: annual trends and response to recent evidence. JAMA.  291(1):47-53. (electronic journals)

§         Kolata, G. (April 22, 2003).  Hormone studies: what went wrong? The New York Times. (Sakai)


J.B. Landers ©, from



11/2     Discussion (Kate Brieger)


11/4     Discussion(  Daniela Meza / Allison Boden )



Week 11


▪ Emanuel, Wendler, Grady.  (2000).  What makes clinical research ethical?, Journal of the American Medical Association, vol 283, pgs 2701-2711. (electronic journals)

§     Cannistra, SA.  The ethics of early stopping rules: who is protecting whom?  Journal of Clinical Oncology, Vol 22, No 9 (May 1), 2004: pp. 1542-1545.

§     D G Altman. Statistics and ethics in medical research. Misuse of statistics is unethical. Br Med J 1980;281:1182-1184. (electronic journals)

▪ Abramson, J. (2005). False and misleading: the misrepresentation of Celebrex and Vioxx. Overdo$ed America. (Sakai)

▪ Lie, Emanuel, Grady.  (2006).  Circumcision and HIV prevention research: an ethical analysis.  The Lancet, vol 368, pages 522-525. (electronic journals)



    Gottweis, H. Gene therapy and the public: a matter of trust. Gene Therapy, vol 9 (Issue 11), pages 667-669. (electronic journals)


J.B. Landers ©, from



11/9     Discussion(  Robert McElwaine / Lauren Boden  )


11/11   Discussion(  Clara Xie / Hyomin Jeon  )


Did O.J. Do It?


Week 12



▪ Utts, J. (2005). Chapters 22, 23, 24.  Seeing Through Statistics. (Huntley)

 ▪ Lucy, D. (2005). Introduction to Statistics for Forensic Scientists. Selected pages (Sakai)

 ▪ Kaplan, M. and Kaplan, E. (2006). Judging.  Chances Are…Adventures in Probability.  (Sakai)



▪ Cobb, G. and Gehlbach, S. (2006). Statistics in the courtroom.  Statistics: a Guide to the Unknown. (Sakai)

 ▪ Koehler, J.J., (1997) One in millions, billions, and trillions: Lessons from People v. Collins (1968) for People v. Simpson (1995)”, Journal of Legal Education, 47, 214-223.  URL is:

  Paulos, J. A. (1997) DNA fingers murdered.  A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper. (Huntley)

   Paulos, J. A. (1997) FDA caught between opposing protesters.  A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper. (Huntley)


J.B. Landers ©, from


11/16   Discussion(  Sam Kaplan / Richard Yannow  )



11/18   Discussion( Dot Silverman / Sam Kaplan  )






Week 13



▪ No Readings this week





11/23   12 Angry Men




11/25 – No Class – Thanksgiving


Week 14



▪ Lee, H. and Tirnady, F.(2003).  Chapters 1, 2, 3.  Blood Evidence. (



 ▪ Weir, B. (2006). DNA Fingerprinting.  Statistics: a Guide to the Unknown. (Sakai)


▪ Lee, H. and Tirnady, F.(2003).  Chapters 10, 11.  Blood Evidence. (


The power of DNA evidence. (1995, May 28). The New York Times. Section 4, page 10. (Sakai)


▪ Weir, B. (1995).  DNA statistics in the Simpson matter.  Nature Genetics, vol 11, pages 365-368. (electronic journals)





11/30   Discussion( Lauren & Allison Boden / Sal Akhtar )


12/2     Discussion(  Travis Bowers / Jack Latourette )



Week 15



Topic of interest.  Suggestions anyone?






(W 12/8 – Last Day of Classes)