From Sumo Wrestlers to Professors

John Allen Paulos explains how numbers can suggest fishy business, in his column at ABC News:

Apr_japan_sumo_050531_tLooking at large data sets and deriving loud conclusions from the reams of whispering numbers is often enjoyable. Herein are three quite disparate examples.

The first concerns sumo wrestlers and comes from “Freakonomics,” a fascinating new book by economist Steven Levitt and writer Stephen Dubner, that employs Levitt’s quirky economic insights to illuminate many everyday activities and practices. The second is simply a study I reported on in a book I wrote on the stock market, and the third comes from a simple analysis I recently made of grade distributions for a required math course at my university.

More here.