Editor’s Letter—Vol. 35, No. 1

Dear CHANCE Colleagues,

Maryland, the state I live in, is known for blue crabs and the birthplace of the national anthem. It also has the distinction of being one of the most gerrymandered states in the USA. In fact, in 2014, the Washington Post called the congressional district where I live the nation’s second-most gerrymandered district. The state is currently in the process of redrawing its congressional and state legislative maps. Candidate maps have been proposed, with grades by the Princeton Gerrymandering Project ranging from A to F. CHANCE authors Arnold Barnett, Pengchen Han, and Gege Zhang propose a solution in “A Simple Fix for Gerrymandering?

We recently received three article submissions about the “gambler’s fallacy”—the irrational belief that the likelihood of an (independent random) event occurring in the future depends on its recent historical frequency. Our editors selected “The Mathematical Anatomy of the Gambler’s Fallacy” by Steven Tijms. Along with mathematical discourse, he provides examples of individuals oblivious to the fallacy and the peril they faced.

Some events, such as COVID-19 deaths, occur in waves. In “Contrary Currents,” Moinak Bhaduri concretely defines a wave structure beyond simple visual identification in a graph.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, decision-makers faced the challenge of balancing public health with economic health. Is it preferable to solve one issue at a time or address both together? Steven Kim and Joonghak Lee analyze this tradeoff in “Approaches to the Dilemma During the Pandemic: Sequential Successes and Simultaneous Successes.”

In “Probit and Wealth Inequality: How Random Events and the Laws of Probability Are Partially Responsible for Wealth Inequality,” Randy Schutt demonstrates how uncontrollable events—such as earthquakes, floods, illness, or “lucky breaks”—can affect wealth distribution. You may find the level of variation surprising when education, talent, and work ethic are held constant.

In the Taking a Chance in the Classroom column, Hollylynne Lee, Zachary Vaskalis, David Stokes, and Taylor Harrison uncover trends in AP Statistics classrooms through a survey of AP Statistics teachers. The Big Picture column features a discussion by Nairanjana Dasgupta calling attention to demographic characteristics of data scientists. In the Teaching Statistics in the Health Sciences column, Sujata Patil and Jaya Satagopan describe a new statistics curriculum for early-career preclinical cancer researchers with the goal of translating laboratory cancer research into clinical success.

Turning now to a bit of sad news: Alan Paller, the original editor of the Visual Revelations column (1988–1990), died this past November. We are remembering him by re-printing an excerpt from an article that he wrote for the 1988 inaugural issue of CHANCE magazine. Bill Eddy, co-founder of CHANCE with Steve Fienberg, remembered Alan, saying that “he really was a ball of fire.” Alan was the author of Choosing the right chart: A comprehensive guide for computer graphics users (1981) and director of ISSCo, a graphics software firm, before transitioning into a successful career in cybersecurity. You can read more about Alan on the New York Times and National Cyber Scholarship Foundation websites.

Finally, I’d like to bring your attention to the Stats + Stories podcast, which explores the statistics behind the stories and the stories behind the statistics. You may recognize several CHANCE authors as guests on the show. Follow on Twitter @statsandstories.

Amanda Peterson-Plunkett

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