Crossing the River

Would you cross a river which has an average depth of 1.5 meters (5 feet)? Probably not. Average is meaningless in this case. What matters is the maximum depth.

The human mind has a good intuitive grasp of statistics. Yet, it suffers from two specific flaws: It often misinterprets the meaning of average, and is confused about the actual implications of high or low percentages.

For example, I recently read an opinion article about electric cars. The author predicted that electric cars will completely replace internal combustion cars in the near future, because the range of an electric car will be sufficient to cover more than 95% of all trips. This, however, is a flawed argument: If you buy something which can be used most of the time, the actual implication is that some of the time you will still need to jump through hoops to have access to an alternative . 

Though statistically small, there is a huge practical difference between 100% and 99%. No one wants to live in a house where the air is breathable 99% of the time.

Don’t be fooled by statistics. Make sure to apply deep thinking before making a decision to cross the river.

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