I have worked on data analytics for my entire career, spanning seven years of employment with NASA and more than twenty years in the private sector. While computing power has increased dramatically over these years, the central challenge remains the same: identifying and quantifying meaningful relationships in data. Especially with massive computing power, it is … Continue reading Real World Data Analysis
There is little question that humanity must reduce emissions of Carbon Dioxide and other greenhouse gases (GHG's). To meet this need, there is a growing trend for consumers and companies to purchase carbon credits that "offset" the emissions generated by airline travel and other high-emission activities. JetBlue, for example, is pledging that all U.S. flights … Continue reading The problem with carbon credits
Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are promising massive cancellation of student debt. There is around $1.5 Trillion in outstanding educational debt and 1-in-8 Americans are currently paying off educational loans. These loan forgiveness plans are promoted in the name of fairness, broader opportunity for the middle class and working class, and reducing inequality. The costs … Continue reading Misleading statistics on college debt forgiveness
Unemployment is one of the most cited statistics in gauging the health of the economy. Low unemployment numbers are used to suggest that the economy is thriving. Today, the official unemployment rate is 3.5%. Conclusions drawn from unemployment rate, without considering other statistics, may be highly misleading. There are two key statistics that need to … Continue reading Misleading statistics on unemployment
The issue of retirement savings in the United States needs more sensible discussion and fewer sensationalist headlines such as The Retirement Crisis is Much Worse Than You Think and Fears of a Retirement Crisis are Overblown - and These Numbers Prove It. Unfortunately, discussions of this topic are rife with simplistic and misleading statistical arguments. … Continue reading Misleading statistics on the retirement crisis
One of the most commonly-cited statistics about college is that the average graduate from a four-year college will earn a million dollars more over their lifetime than a high-school graduate. Most recently, this statistic has been propagated in a study at Georgetown, but this talking point has been around for much longer. Will a college … Continue reading Misleading statistics on the economic value of college
I am writing a series of posts on the theme of misleading statistics. As a quantitative analyst, my business is using statistics to inform decisions. Previously, when I worked as a scientist for NASA, I focused on statistical models as well. It is not surprising, then, that I am often in situations when a writer … Continue reading Misleading statistics
In discussions of all sorts of public policy, it is common to see references to the average American or the average household. It seems to me that the entire idea of the average American household may be fairly meaningless. About 33% of Americans have a college education. The average incomes of people with college degrees … Continue reading Is it useful to discuss the ‘average American’?
With the rapid increases in costs of higher education, there has been a related effort to calculate whether college is worth the cost. One well-known site, built by Payscale.com, has created a database of 20-year earnings for graduates of a vast array of U.S. colleges and universities and compared these to costs. From these data, … Continue reading Are college return-on-investment calculations meaningful?