*In the United States 1,200 tornadoes a year kill 50 people. Texas has 149 tornadoes a year, Kansas has 93, and Oklahoma has 64. So Texas is the most dangerous place, right? That’s the deduction most people make, but a few of us know the importance of taking more things into consideration before drawing our conclusions.*

#### What about the state’s Area?

Texas has .0005 tornadoes per square mile. Kansas has .0011 and Oklahoma, .0009, so Kansas is the most dangerous – right, Dorothy?

#### What about the state’s Population?

Texas has 23 million people, Kansas has 3 million, and Oklahoma, 4 million. On a per person basis, Texas has .00001 tornadoes, Kansas has .00003, and Oklahoma, .00002. So it looks like Kansas again, right?

#### So what’s the answer?

If the most dangerous state is the one with *the largest number of tornado fatalities*, it’s Mississippi, with 10 deaths per year. This also translates to .38 deaths per tornado, which is* ten times worse than Texas (.05) , Kansas (.02), and Oklahoma (.04). *There are at least five lessons here, and maybe more.

- Never assume we have all the data.
- Don’t be tricked by raw numbers.
- Calibrate numbers so we can compare them on equal footing.
- Determine which statistic is most useful.
- During analysis, always remind ourselves of the original question.