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.



closed as too broad by Tim, whuber Jan 26 '16 at 14:47

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ 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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