Why is statistical literacy important?

Statistical literacy and statistical reasoning are essential skills that can help us make better decisions in our everyday lives. By understanding and applying these concepts, we can more effectively interpret information, evaluate claims, and make informed choices. Let me share some real-world examples of how these skills can be useful. 

1) Understanding risks

Imagine you come across a headline that says, “Drinking coffee increases your risk of heart disease by 30%.” As someone with statistical literacy, you would know to ask for more information, such as the baseline risk and the study design. A 30% increase might sound alarming, but if the baseline risk is low, the absolute risk increase might not be as significant as it seems. Understanding the context and the numbers behind the headline can help you make informed decisions about your own coffee consumption.

2) Evaluating claims

You might see an advertisement for a weight-loss supplement that claims to help people lose 10 pounds in just one month. With statistical reasoning, you would question the validity of this claim and look for evidence, such as the sample size, study design, and potential biases. By critically evaluating the evidence, you can decide whether or not to invest in the product.

3) Making decisions

Let’s say you are considering investing in a company whose stock price has been steadily increasing over the past six months. With statistical thinking, you would recognize the importance of looking at longer-term trends and considering factors that may have contributed to the price increase. You would also understand that past performance doesn’t guarantee future results. This type of analysis can help you make more informed investment decisions.

4) Interpreting results

During election season, you might see various polls predicting the outcome of a race. Statistical literacy can help you understand the margin of error, sample size, and potential biases in the polling data. This knowledge can help you contextualize the poll results and make more informed decisions as a voter.

5) Analyzing Trends

You might notice a viral social media post claiming that a specific food item is linked to a significant health benefit. With statistical reasoning, you would look for the source of this claim and evaluate the quality of the evidence provided. This can help you determine whether the information is trustworthy or if it’s just another misleading piece of content. 


By developing statistical literacy skills, you can become a more informed consumer of information and a more effective decision-maker.