Anecdotes and Fables

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Bomb Threat

Use this story to illustrate the care that needs to be taken with statistics.

With the increase in terrorism, George was becoming more and more concerned about the risk of there being a bomb on the many flights that he takes around the world. His concern became so great that he asked a statistician friend to work out the probability of there being a bomb on any one plane.

After some research his friend came up with a result which, although very small, still gave George some concern. After a few minutes reflection, George asked the statistician to work out the probability of there being two bombs aboard. It turned out that the risk of this happening was negligibly small — so George resolved to always take a bomb on board with him.

George was arrested at London Heathrow last week.

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