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Probability Key Definitions Help (page 3)

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By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Aug 26, 2011

Solution 1

Some readers will say that this question cannot be satisfactorily answered because the experiment is not good enough. Is 10,000 test subjects a large enough number? What physiological factors affect the way the drug works? How about blood type, for example? Ethnicity? Gender? Blood pressure? Diet? What constitutes ''high cholesterol''? What constitutes a ''significant drop'' in cholesterol level? What is an ''adverse side effect''? What is the standard drug dose? How long must the drug be taken in order to know if it works? For convenience, we ignore all of these factors here, even though, in a true scientific experiment, it would be an excellent idea to take them all into consideration.

Based on the above experimental data, shallow as it is, the relative frequency of effectiveness is 7289/10,000 = 0.7289 = 72.89%. The relative frequency of ill effects is 307/10,000 = 0.0307 = 3.07%. We can round these off to 73% and 3%. These are the empirical probabilities that you will derive benefit, or experience adverse effects, if you take this drug in the hope of lowering your high cholesterol. Of course, once you actually use the drug, these probabilities will lose all their meaning for you. You will eventually say ''The drug worked for me'' or ''The drug did not work for me.'' You will say, ''I had bad side effects'' or ''I did not have bad side effects.''

Practice problems for these concepts can be found at:

Basics of Probability Practice Test

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