Standard Deviation: the Neglected Statistic

Standard Deviation

For decades I've thought that the standard deviation of a set of measurements has been neglected when trying to make sense of data that affect our lives. Humans consider the mean or average almost exclusively when confronted with a bunch of numbers. We talk about the average temperature, the average grade on a test, the average child, the average family income; the list is seemingly endless. We seldom even consider, let alone talk about, the variability in the data.

I present this essay hoping that at least a few of you will consider examining the standard deviation when trying to reconcile some data with what is happening around us. I've tried to write it in a straight-forward, non-techinical way that is readily comprehensible. Where I've failed to be comprehensible, I would appreciate hearing from you.

A pdf file, which you can download, describes how the standard deviation in conjunction with the mean can provide a non-traditional look at some baseball data.

First Page Download