Some interesting statistics problems that could be researched on the web:

Do firearms laws prevent violence? Maybe not!

comprehensive info on gun safety at

Some scientists assert that the average temperature of the planet has increased 1 degree in the last century.

Others maintain there is little evidence of "global warming" or that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is materially "man-made" or that it is necessarily bad.    no consensus among climate scientists. Errors abound in the alarmist literature.

Is global warming real (statistically significant)? If so:
is it due to greenhouse gases?
Is human activity a significant contributor?
Is it a good thing or a bad thing?
Statistics in the news: 

Slight adjustment in Al Gore's "Statistics about "Warmest US years on record"

This probably won't get as much publicity as the original reports, but seems the 1930's- 1940's, when carbon dioxide was much less significant, were warmer than recent years in the US.
Global warming advocate James Hansen, the director of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, was slow to acknowledge and correct these misstatements, and said "the differences weren't statistically significant." 
One must wonder about why the results are "significant" only if they support the global warming industry (including NASA). If results go against the global warming industry pet theory then they are not significant.
Research grants to those who are touting the man-made global warming story are about $50 B per year. The reticence to admit the errors is a statement about how some "researchers" are invested in the $50 billion of our tax money spent on "global warming research" each year. Good thing their results are not biased by this financial incentive.,2933,293498,00.html

Are Dioxins carcinogenic? Is the evidence statistically significant?

Did chlorofluorocarbons really have anything to do with an "increasing problem with holes in the ozone layer"? Is it now fixed?

"On average Americans read less (fewer?) than one book a year"

Is this assertion supportable by evidence?
see e.g.

"It costs more for legal procedures over condemned prisoners than it would cost for life imprisonment instead."

"One in six Americans are victims of sexual abuse."

Poor people are more likely to smoke cigarettes.

"Adults living in poverty were more likely to be smokers. In 2002, 32.9 percent of adults living below poverty levels reported smoking, compared to 22.2 percent of adults at or above the poverty level, according to the CDCís report."

CDC reports this is also strongly related to education.

Some people are arguing that cigarette taxes are unfair as they put a disproportionate burden on the poor who use more cigarettes and have less money to go to college.

Average price per pack is about $3.81 or (rough estimate) about $2.50 if bought by the carton. average consumption is probably at least a pack per day (88% of smokers smoke every day, some 2 packs a day) for close to $1000 per year.
year 2000 Census Poverty thresholds were used in the CDC study. Poverty Threshold varies depending on family size from one individual ($8795), two persons ($11239) to up to about $35 K for families of 9 or more.

It seems if we are talking per person, the right number is someplace around $10K --all cash income from earnings, welfare, etc., before taxes.

 So about 1/3 of people with incomes below $10K are spending about 10% of their resources on cigarettes. This would get a lot more pronounced if we had a family of smokers.

Does lack of education cause people to smoke, or does the expense of smoking keep people from getting an education?

Raw data on health habits is available from the National Health Interview Survey with about 45,000 records. could be useful for courses.

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