The Tall Book: Now a Math Problem
Posted November 1st, 2009 @ 2:36 pm PST

Did you know that The Tall Book  is now a math problem? I didn't!

Kevin Mitchell writes in with a biostatistics math problem now in use at Hobart & William Smith College:

The Dinka people live in the southern part of Sudan. Cattle are particulary important in Dinka culture with ownership of livestock serving as one factor in social standing. The Dinka use cattle for other  social purposes. For example, cattle serve as the primary means of settling a negotiated bride price which the grooms family pays to the brides family. There are several factors which may affect this price (see Chief s daughters fetch more cattle in the same way chief s son is expected to pay more cattle for his wife. University graduates fetch higher bride prices, a factor that may positively affect enrolment of girls in schools. In The Tall Book journalist Arianne Cohen suggests that, among the Dinka, women over six feet tall fetch 80 to 100 cows on the marriage market while shorter women bring only 50 or 70, a premium of roughly 30 cattle in such negotiations for taller women.
An anthropologist conducts a small survey of eleven elders in a Dinka village. Based on their experience and knowledge, she asks each to suggest an average bride price for women taller than six feet and for women shorter than six feet; see the table below. The researcher has no basis to assume that the data are normally distributed. Determine a 95% confidence interval for the median difference between the two estimates. Interpret your answer in relation to the claim of a 30 cattle premium for taller women.
Elder     Greater than 6 ft       Less than 6 ft
1                  57                         49
2                  63                         51
3                  94                         74
4                  82                         61
5                  89                         68
6                  85                         63
7                  88                         65
8                  77                         52
9                  80                         55
10               109                        75

Anyone know the answer? Bonus Tall Person Points if you do.

the Book
The TALL Book [signed copy]The TALL Book [signed copy]
by Arianne Cohen

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