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Bolet´ın de Estad´ıstica e Investigaci´on Operativa

Vol. 31, No. 1, Marzo 2015, pp. 3



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

the people.

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:

62J05, 62G07.

1. Introduction

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

questioning them.

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.


2015 SEIO