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Joel Smith

Joel Smith wrote for the Minitab Blog from 2012-2016.

In the great 1971 movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the reclusive owner of the Wonka Chocolate Factory decides to place golden tickets in five of his famous chocolate bars, and allow the winners of each to visit his factory with a guest. Since restarting production after three years of silence, no one has come in or gone out of the factory. Needless to say, there is enormous interest in... Continue Reading
Along with the explosion of interest in visualizing data over the past few years has been an excessive focus on how attractive the graph is at the expense of how useful it is. Don't get me wrong...I believe that a colorful, modern graph comes across better than a black-and-white, pixelated one. Unfortunately, however, all the talk seems to be about the attractiveness and not the value of the... Continue Reading

7 Deadly Statistical Sins Even the Experts Make

Do you know how to avoid them?

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Allow me to make a confession up front: I won't hesitate to beat my kids at a game. My kids are young enough that in pretty much any game that is predominantly determined by skill and not luck, I can beat them—and beat them easily. This isn't some macho thing where it makes me feel good, and I suppose is only partially based in wanting them to handle both winning and losing well. It's just how I... Continue Reading
For the majority of my career with Minitab, I've had the opportunity to speak at conferences and other events somewhat regularly. I thought some of my talks were pretty good, and some were not so good (based on ratings, my audiences didn't always agree with either—but that's a topic for another post). But I would guess that well over 90% of the time, my proposals were accepted to be presented at... Continue Reading
Just 100 years ago, very few statistical tools were available and the field was largely unknown. Since then, there has been an explosion of tools available, as well as ever-increasing awareness and use of statistics.   While most readers of the Minitab Blog are looking to pick up new tools or improve their use of commonly-applied ones, I thought it would be worth stepping back and talking about one... Continue Reading
Last month the ESPN series Outside the Lines reported on major league pitchers suffering serious injuries from being struck in the head by line drives, and efforts MLB is making towards having protective gear developed for pitchers. You can view the report here if you'd like: A couple of things jump out at me from the clip: The overwhelming majority of pitchers are not interested in wearing... Continue Reading
I am M. G - L - M. That G - L - M! That G - L - M! I do not like That G - L - M. Do you like Means and histograms? I do not like them, G - L - M. I do not like Means and histograms. Would you like them Halved or squared? Would you like them As a pair? I would not like them Halved or squared. I would not like them As a pair. I do not like Means and histograms. I do not like them, G - L - M. Would you like... Continue Reading
I typically attend a few Lean Six Sigma conferences each year, and at each there is at least one session about compensating belts. Any number of ideas exist out there, but they commonly include systems that provide a percentage of savings as a portion of pay or provide a bonus for meeting target project savings. There are always issues with these pay schemes, including the fact that... Continue Reading
On a recent vacation, I was unsuccessfully trying to reunite with my family outside a busy shopping mall and starting to get a little stressed. I was on a crowded sidewalk, in a busy city known for crime, and it was raining.  I thought there was no way things could get more aggravating when something warm and solid hit my arm and shirt. A bird had pooped on me. Not having the kids with me, and being... Continue Reading
Learning to ride a bike is a rite of passage for any kid, so much so that we even use the expression "taking the training wheels off" for all kinds of situations. We say it to mean that we are going to let someone perform an activity on their own after removing some safeguard, even though we know they will likely experience failures before becoming proficient at it. You see, riding a bike requires... Continue Reading
In Part I, Part II, and Part III we shared our experiment, the survey results, and the experimental results. To wrap things up, we're going to see if the survey results tied to the experimental results in any meaningful way... First, we look at whether self-identified knowledge correlated to the total number of correct appraisals: We have no evidence of a relationship (p = 0.795).  So we'll look... Continue Reading
In Part I and Part II we learned about the experiment and the survey, respectively. Now we turn our attention to the results... Our first two participants, Danielle and Sheryl, enter the conference room and are given blindfolds as we explain how the experiment will proceed.  As we administer the tasting, the colors of the wine are obvious but we don't know the true types, which have been masked... Continue Reading
In Blind Wine Part I, we introduced our experimental setup, which included some survey questions asked ahead of time of each participant. The four questions asked were: On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your knowledge of wine? How much would you typically spend on a bottle of wine in a store? How many different types of wine (merlot, riesling, cabernet, etc.) would you buy regularly (not as... Continue Reading
Already relaxed on his first day in Napa, Brutus and his wife Suzy decide to visit their favorite winery just before lunch to taste their new Cabernet Sauvignon. The owner recognizes them as they walk in the door and immediately seats them on the patio overlooking the vineyard. Two glasses appear, and as the owner tells them about the new Cabernet, Brutus prepares for an onslaught of blackberry... Continue Reading
If betting wasn't allowed on horse racing, the Kentucky Derby would likely be a little-known event of interest only to a small group of horse racing enthusiasts. But like the Tour de France, the World Cup, and the Masters Tournament, even those with little or no knowledge of the sport in general seem drawn to the excitement over its premier event—the mint juleps, the hats...and of course,... Continue Reading
A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post titled "What I Learned From Treating Childbirth as Failure" that conveniently ended up getting published the day before my daughter was born.  You should read it first, but to summarize it demonstrates how we can predict the odds of an event happening during certain time intervals even when the original data is highly censored. Since then, several people... Continue Reading
In Parts 1 and 2 of Gauging Gage we looked at the numbers of parts, operators, and replicates used in a Gage R&R Study and how accurately we could estimate %Contribution based on the choice for each.  In doing so, I hoped to provide you with valuable and interesting information, but mostly I hoped to make you like me.  I mean like me so much that if I told you that you were doing... Continue Reading
In Part 1 of Gauging Gage, I looked at how adequate a sampling of 10 parts is for a Gage R&R Study and providing some advice based on the results. Now I want to turn my attention to the other two factors in the standard Gage experiment: 3 operators and 2 replicates.  Specifically, what if instead of increasing the number of parts in the experiment (my previous post demonstrated you would need... Continue Reading
"You take 10 parts and have 3 operators measure each 2 times." This standard approach to a Gage R&R experiment is so common, so accepted, so ubiquitous that few people ever question whether it is effective.  Obviously one could look at whether 3 is an adequate number of operators or 2 an adequate number of replicates, but in this first of a series of posts about "Gauging Gage," I want to look at... Continue Reading
It has come to my attention recently that amidst the fun of attending Super Bowl parties and watching the 2nd-most viewed sporting event on earth there are some people—seedy characters with questionable pasts, I'm sure—who are betting on the game!  Now, as gambling on sporting events is highly regulated and illegal in almost every state, I'm confident that reports of this are overblown and that the... Continue Reading