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Vital statistics

Wellcome Trust Blog

The Wellcome Trust believes in bringing cutting edge science to the classroom. The latest edition of our Big Picture magazine for students and teachers focuses on making sense of numbers, teaching you how to spot bad statistics, and the importance of understanding risk.

Did you know that over 99 per cent of the population has a greater than average number of legs? It might seem counter-intuitive at first – the average person has two legs after all, so how could that be? The key is remembering how averages are calculated. Since some of the population have fewer than two legs, the average number of legs is lower than two, thus anyone with two legs technically has more than the average.

Mention statistics and you’re likely to either hear a cry of “boring!” or have someone tell you the “84.6 per cent of statistics are made up”, but statistics are an…

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