From my interactions with undergraduate students, it seems that even though these definitions are easy to recite, they are difficult to be integrated into a comprehensive whole. I hope here to show how to conceptually integrate them into a cohesive picture.
This post was originally created for Psychology in Action, and edited by her new blog master, Tawny Tsui. See her posts here.
Everything begins with reality: the “Reality Continuum”
I call this green line “Reality Continuum” (rather grand, no?) because you will take your ideas, and do a reality check against it via data analysis (within the traditional statistical framework–it is definitely NOT the only framework on the market, but I digress).
Odds, Probability, Chance, Risks: Interchangeable?
Not so much.
What does it mean to say “smokers are X times more likely to get lung cancer than non-smokers?” What about
when the weather channel says, “there is a 10% chance of rain?” The odds of 1 to 10 of winning?
These words are often used in casual conversations as somewhat interchangeable, and can be rather confusing. I remember being very excited to learn about them for the first time, so hopefully you will find this as interesting (or at least as clarifying!) as I did!
A little test!
In which of the following scenario are you most likely to find dessert happiness? Which ones are saying the same thing?
A. The odds against you eating a cupcake are 1 to 5.
B. Your odds of/on eating a cupcake are 1 to 5.
C. The probability of you eating a cupcake is 20%.
D. You have a 20% chance of eating a cupcake.
Answers, in short: A is the most likely-for-cupcake scenario, and C and D are saying the same thing.