Simpson's Paradox

Suppose you're trying to decide which university to go to. You find out that last year the university you're interested in admitted 30% of male applicants but only 21.3% of female applicants. Looks like a clear case of gender bias, so you're tempted to go somewhere else. But then you look at the figures again, this time broken up by department, you see a bias in favour of women. What's going on?

Did you know that you can't average averages? Or that Paris is rainier than London ... but it rains more in London than in Paris? Andrew Stickland explores the dangers that face the unwary when using a single number to summarise complex data.