What are some interesting, historical applied statistics problems ? i.e. sometime in the past that statistics have been used to affect the course of events?

The kind of problems I am looking for are things like

  • German Tank Problem - bayesian statistics applied to estimate number of enemy tanks
  • Florence Nightingale - showing that disease is the largest killer
  • Abraham Wald Memo - armor the parts of the airplanes that do not have holes in them (selection bias)

I have been able to find a lot of classic statistic "paradoxes" like the 2 envelope problem, or the 2 daughters problem. But not that many actually applied. I am interested in the paradox problems only in so much as they are historically relevant for instance.

  • Monty Hall Problem - great "paradox", and interesting because of its famous use an an actual game show

to clarify, the examples I gave were war & destruction themed. But I would be just as interested in a clever example of a company exploiting stats to make money.


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    $\begingroup$ There are multiple reasons to close this question, as appealing is it might be: it is too broad, it does not fit the framework of this site, it is vague, and it solicits opinion (what exactly does "interesting" mean?). It would be a nice subject for a chat. $\endgroup$ – whuber Jan 26 '16 at 14:48
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