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Stats and "Snobbiness"?

Movoto just published their "Snobbiest Small City" List: Palo Alto CA, San Rafael CA, Bethesda, MD....

Funny, their list is highly-correlated with our shipping addresses.

But, I've got 2 major complaints about this list.

First, I lived for 5 years in Palo Alto in a room in a house shared with 6 other folks (another grad student, a professional clown, a stockbroker, an electrical engineer, and a parking enforcement officer), and Palo Alto didn't feel snobby, just pretty. Folks there are too busy being passionate about whatever they're into and working their butts off to afford housing. Heck, people don't even dress nice in Palo Alto, they sport free t-shirts handed out by tech companies.

Second, we should all be snobby about statistics, and this article makes the cardinal sin of confusing median and average. Let's recall why this difference is important - suppose eleven different customers email us about something and it takes us this long to reply to each of them (sorted):

1 min, 5 min, 10 min, 10 min, 15 min, 30 min, 1 hour, 1 hour, 2 hour, 4 hours, and

24 hours (because sometimes Life gets in the way).

 

Median response time: 30 min  Yea! 

Average response time: 3 hours  Oooohh, not so great. 

 

So, median vs average - this isn't just a notational disagreement like snarking over its vs it's, this is a fundamental issue of statistical literacy and understanding the complexity of the distribution of reality. That's right, median-vs-average, it's complex in a good way, like a fine Pinot :).



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