Today’s Factismal: While he was a prisoner of war, John Kerrich flipped a coin 10,000 times and got 5,017 heads and 4,983 tails.
You probably didn’t know that today is National Flip A Coin Day, which is dedicated to improving our understanding of statistics. Though the subject may seem boring, statistics plays an essential part in our lives. From determining if a heat wave is unusual to discovering if the predictions being made by NOAA are worth heeding to simply telling if traffic will be heavier than usual, statistics drives many of our public policy decisions as well as serving as the way we judge the outcomes of experiments. And the amazing thing about statistics is that many of the most powerful statistical tools are based in, you guessed it, coin flips.
But if you’d rather go have a root canal from Orin Scrivello, DDS, than do statistics, then may I suggest an alternative? Panamath is an ongoing citizen science project that is trying to understand our “number sense”, that is, the way that we estimate the number of people in a group or the number of slices of pie left on the table. If you’d like to help, then head on over to