Odds, odds ratio, language and intuition

January 25, 2015

(This article was first published on Wiekvoet, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

I was reading a statistics book the other day. I am at the beginning. In this section I read ‘(we) report results as odds ratios, which is more intuitive’. I must have read sentences stating this any number of times. But I don’t agree.
It may be my background. My mother tongue is Dutch, which does not have a word for odds. Hence odds is a word which I only learned when I got into statistics. It is an abstract mathematical construct. The odds ratio then, is a ratio between two abstract numbers and initially was just a number. Since I never did much in odds and odds ratio, they never gained meaning either.
Now I am just wondering, what proportion of people reading this kind of books does not have an intuition for odds?

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