In What Way Might An Average Be Misused?

When you were a child, you might have seen a dark brown bottle of a mysterious liquid high on a shelf in your garage, out of your reach. “That’s poison,” a parent might have warned, pointing to the container. “Don’t touch.” It nonetheless had some use. It was there for a reason. This example illustrates a principle: Items that can be misused often have a valid use, and vice versa. An average (e.g. mean, median, and mode) is not an exception; it can be useful, but if it is misused or misinterpreted it can be destructive.

 

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In what way might an average be misused? Alternatively, how might an average be misinterpreted? For instance, how can a misinterpreted average pertain to stereotyping? How can we avoid misuse or misinterpretation of averages? Provide a specific example to illustrate your explanation.

 

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