Latest Issue

The meaning of means

By Tom Chatfield  

I’ve just been reading an engaging book about statistics—The Tiger That Isn’t, by Michael Blastland and Andrew Dilnot—and it’s got me thinking a little harder, as statistics always ought to, about familiar things I thought I already knew everything about.

For instance, how much do you think the mean national income was in the UK, after tax and benefits, for two childless people living as a couple in 2005/6? I’m willing to bet that many will be surprised by the answer, which is £23,000—equivalent to £11,500 each (most people I’ve tested thought it would be higher). Still, statistics are often…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect