Questions this assignment addresses: How can we use numbers to understand our past? You will read, use websites and a spreadsheet, answer questions, and submit your answers to the dropbox Numbers I.

Go to http://www.shodor.org/interactivate/activities/SimpleMontyHall/

Play the game. Do you understand why you should always switch?

If not, go to http://webs.wofford.edu/bednarjt/monty/montyhall.html for an explanation.

- Identify the difference between the mean, median, and mode of a group of numbers.
- Open a spreadsheet file using a spreadsheet program.
- Identify why the different ways of counting and averaging matter.
- Read a spreadsheet by using tabs.
- Answer questions about the past by interpreting data.

Let’s tackle that one word at a time, backwards. Statistics matter because we use numbers to measure our lives, whether it’s the dollars in our bank account, the number of friends we have on facebook, or how full a glass is (half full?) Increasingly, statistics are used to convince us in the truth of an argument. Yet, without a basic understanding of statistics, people often fall back into the cynicism that all numbers lie. Numbers are just information, and just as we apply the PISA test to sources, so too can we apply certain standards for what is a credible statistic.

Why do statistics matter to *history?* Numbers show us trends, that is up or down, in parts of our lives that are important. How much food, per person, does one society provide over time? How is income distributed to a people, mostly to the rulers, or does every group have a sizable chunk? As well, numbers let us compare groups that are fare apart from each other in geographic or temporal terms. Did the Han Chinese of 100 CE have greater economic output than the Roman Empire in Europe of 100 CE? Statistics matter because we can see trends (changes over time) and comparisons.

To start, let’s deal with a simple concept: an average. There are three types of averages, the mean, median, and mode.

For a text definition of these terms, see https://www.thoughtco.com/the-mean-median-and-mode–2312604

For video explanation, see https://www.khanacademy.org/math/probability/data-distributions-a1/summarizing-center-distributions/v/mean-median-and-mode

**Questions: Please answer** Let’s say a large village had 25 people die in a single year. Below is the age of each deceased villager.

- Average the following ages: 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 5, 6, 9, 18, 18, 35, 45, 58, 72, 73, 75, 78, 88, 92, 107, 110. (25 numbers).
- What is the mean age of death in this town?
- What is the median (number in the middle of s string of numbers) age of death for this town?
- What is the mode (most commonly occurring number in string of numbers) age of death for this town?
- If you are 34 years old, are you scared of dying next year? Why or why not?

As a historian, when you see the word “average” you always need to ask if it’s the mean, median, or mode and *is that the most useful average for understanding the past.*

If you’d like more help understanding mean, median, and mode, you can see a video here.

For the next part of the lesson, you need access to a spreadsheet program. You can use Microsoft Excel or Mac Numbers if those programs are already on your computer. If you don’t want to use those programs, you’ll need to do one of two things:

- You can use any spreadsheet program you wish. These include Excel online through your Normandale account, Google Sheets through a google account, Excel (Microsoft) or Numbers (Mac) as stand alone applications on your computer or LibreOffice a free software suite.

You will need to download and use this spreadsheet for the Assignment 7 this week. It is in an Excel format (.xlsx) which can be read by most spreadsheet programs. Examples of how it will appear are below.

Note that the application Numbers puts tabs at the top of the spreadsheet.

The first tab (Notes) is an introduction and not terribly useful to use. Tabs 2 and 3 (GDP pc and Population) will offer us more useful information.