Bolet´ın de Estad´ıstica e Investigaci´on Operativa
Vol. 31, No. 1, Marzo 2015, pp. 3-22
How bad are the Spanish results in the PISA reports?
How good is Spain in sports?
Juan Antonio Cuesta-Albertos
Departamento de Matem´aticas, Estad´ıstica y Computaci´on,
Universidad de Cantabria
The goal of this paper is to show how the statistical techniques can
help to understand the news described in the media which, quite often,
are misleading and, also, to test the reliability of the general opinions of
To this end, I have chosen to analyze the results of Spain in the PISA
2012 report as well as the performance of the Spanish sportsmen and
sportswomen in the last Olympic Games.
In particular, I will compare the results of Spain in both cases and I
will also analyze how the wealth of the countries influence their results.
Polynomial regression, kernel regression, PISA reports, sports,
London Olympic Games.
AMS Subject classifications:
I am worried about the poor mathematical level that the media exhibit some-
times. For instance, I have found a newspaper regretting that the surface of an
archeological site had been reduced to one squared kilometer from a previous
estimation of 4,6 hectares, and many others giving proportions which add more
than one. Even worst is the fact that people accept those statements without
When the editor of this Bulletin proposed me to write a paper on applications
of Statistics, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to try to show how
the statistical techniques can help us to focus the data published in the media
as well as to test opinions of the people which are broadly assumed, sometimes,
without critical thinking.