Numbers & the News 3rd Edition


This course will be an updated and expanded version of
those taught in fall 2017 and fall 2018, where we began
exploring the intersection of journalism and statistics.
We estimate that about 70% of the course material will
be new. We will discuss rapidly evolving technologies
for displaying data and for explaining complex topics
involving quantitative data. We will look at examples of
misleading graphics and statistics and consider sources
of bias in creating and interpreting data.

Within this context, we will examine a variety of articles
and studies involving economics, personal finance,
demographics, health care, science, politics and sports.
Examples include clinical trials, fish oil, Alzheimer’s, life
expectancy, robotic surgery, Big Data, online dating services,
social mobility, stock market performance, global
economic growth, sports analytics, vaccines, election
auditing, junk science, college admissions and statins. All
statistical concepts will be explained in layman’s terms.

Steve Shapiro taught high school math in the Fairfax
County Public Schools and co-chaired the math
department at Falls Church High School. Prior to
teaching, he spent 25 years in management positions
with high-tech companies. He is a graduate of Tufts
University and MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

Charlie Hallahan retired after 41 years with the federal
government working with economic researchers in the
U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Securities and
Exchange Commission. After receiving his PhD in mathematics
from Rutgers University, he taught math at the
University of Wisconsin-Madison and American University.


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