On Friday I’m doing a session with student teachers look at teaching statistics. One of the things I’ve been thinking about is the awkward questions and misconceptions that come up in teaching statistics. I’m going to get them talking about and explaining the questions, might even play at being the awkward student constantly saying “but why?”

I found quite a few probability ones with a quick google but less on general stats so a few off the top of my head are:

Why do we have the mean, median and mode, couldn’t there just be one average?

Is the range a type of average?

Why is the mean from a grouped frequency table an estimate?

Why is a cumulative frequency curve plotted at the end of the interval?

Why is a frequency polygon plotted at the midpoint of the interval?

Why do the bars of a bar chart not touch?

Why do the bars on a histogram touch?

The probability of it snowing tomorrow is 0.5 because it either snows or it doesn’t.

Six is the least likely number to get when rolling a die.

Choosing the numbers 1,2,3,4,5,6 makes you less likely to win the lottery

If you roll 2 dice why do you have a great chance of getting a 5 and a 6 than two 6s?

Which is higher is the likelihood of getting 3 6s in 5 rolls or getting 300 6s in 500 rolls?

Why do we have to plot graphs by hand when computers can do it for us?

Does correlation imply causation?

Why does a normal distribution curve never touch the axis?

Need a few more by Friday really but it’s a start. I’d love to hear more awkward questions and misconceptions if you’ve got ideas.

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