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The Forum > General Discussion > Lies, damned lies and...

Lies, damned lies and...

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I was thinking the other day, I am totally immune to any argument based on the use of statistics. I just tune out. I believe that basically anyone can gather statistics to 'prove' their case, but I have no desire to check they are accurate, read up on the methods used to gain these statistics, think about the wording of the questions if a survey was involved, the motives of the researcher, where their funding has come from, the accuracy of the interpretation of the data, look into other similar studies etc etc. Then after all that you still often have to explain the difference between correlation and causation to the person quoting the stats.

Having a life, and many interests and hence topics I would have to read up on, I just don't have the time or energy to look into the accuracy of all these statistics bandied about as fact every day. It seems from some of the posts on OLO, some people have many hours to scroll through various documents and web sites and do all this sort of thing. I suspect though, that the average person...

a) Just either takes statistics and reported research by the media at face value. Which poses a real danger of people ignoring their own common sense, and lazily accepting that anyone who has these mythical numbers to back them up should be listened to.

b) Just doesn't believe any statistics, which makes all these studies useless as a tool for informing the community.

Ironically, I actually have a degree with a major in statistics:-) Not that I have ever used my once held knowledge for anything but understanding the futility of gambling.
Posted by Usual Suspect, Friday, 16 May 2008 5:58:08 PM
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Dear Usual Suspect,

The purpose of statistics is not just important to statisticians, or scientists, it's important to everyone.

But don't take my word for it.

See the following website:

http://www.kevinbone.com/statisticsfor.html
Posted by Foxy, Friday, 16 May 2008 10:41:57 PM
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Statistics are just a form of data. The same applies with data as a whole as it does with stats; the problems of what importance you place on what, what’s causal, what’s independently derived, etc.

If a data set is anything other than very simple or very strongly indicative of a certain outcome, it is wide open to differences in interpretation, and hence the conclusions reached.

I’m often amazed within my professional botanical arena at some of the data that is presented and the conclusions drawn. This concerns things such as the basis for describing new plant species or for splitting off new genera, or for justifying changes from remnant to non remnant vegetation.

It's not rocket science, just descriptions and/or measurements on a relatively small number of characters/parameters, and yet, I can often see things very differently to the conclusions presented.

Particularly concerning the constant stream of scientific name changes of plants as new species are described and new genera circumscribed, I often have to say; you’ve got to be kidding! Other times I’m doubtful, but it would take a lot of research to confirm or remove the doubts. And often, I can agree.

It’s all over the place. So in the wider world, where there are many other forces at play; politics, profit motive, funding, etc, you do indeed have to be very careful about much of the data presented and the conclusions drawn.

.
Foxy, I can’t get that link to work. Nor the www.kevinbone.com homepage.
Posted by Ludwig, Saturday, 17 May 2008 10:10:18 AM
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Dear Ludwig,

My apologies. I made a typo. The website should read:

www.kevinboone.com/statisticsfor.html

The title is:

The K-Zone: What is Statistics actually for?
Posted by Foxy, Saturday, 17 May 2008 12:11:34 PM
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Damm lies by statistics

give me your mubers ;i will rate them down to numbers per 100,000 [making them look smaller
then use simple accounting modifiers to tell at a glance what you need them to be saying

Take booze it kills 5000 per year , but take out violent alcohol related crime,road deaths you get it down to a basic number that becomes 2000 that further modified becomes MINUS 2000[simply subtract a statistical bennifitiary [ie bennifit derived from having one drink per day ]

the number becomes more reasonable [read the figures yourself google up legal drug deaths
[where the biggest 'cause' of death becomes smoking [how many died from the act of smoking is irrelivant because death is deemed [blame-able to any given cause cause
we dont autopsy deaths under docter supervision ,their cause of death is taken at face value

noting furyther 1 in 100 hospitalisations is from adverse drug reaction to legal perscribed medication
[one in ten causing death, any nicoteen stained finger [or ''attributable '' to smoking] becomes death by smoking ?

please see this joke about the latest scam
the NNT number

[doses Number Needed to Treat
[ie cure one person]using the neo[new drugs]

docters-dirty-little?-secret.

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/05/08/medicine-s-dirty-little-secret.aspx?source=nl

NOting hemp-marijuanna [which cures cancer ] has never caused any death ,but cant be patented.
Posted by one under god, Saturday, 17 May 2008 1:33:04 PM
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a New York City public school Last year, announced that students would only need the correct answer on 27 percent of the questions, 23 out of 84, on the Math A Regents exam in order to receive a passing grade.

In 2003, the score required for passing was a not-exactly-lofty 55 percent. But after two-thirds of the students failed that year, the State decided that rather than focus on fixing the students, it was better to just dumb-down the test.


Statisticlly Things do not appear as dismal in the City’s elementary schools.

Last year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City School’s Chancellor Joel Klein announced that fourth-graders had aced the State’s standard math exam, with 77.4 percent of all students meeting or exceeding State standards—the highest number for a City class in the history of the test. “said Bloomberg almost one year ago. “More fourth grade students are meeting or exceeding standards than ever since we started standards-based testing, and significant gains by Black and Hispanic students show that we continue to close the achievement gap as well.
The mayor failed to mention his initiative to end social promotion the year before, by which he held back the lowest performing students in third grade only, ensuring an increase in test scores that could be announced during the stretch run of his reelection campaign.
extracted from
http://www.fireflysun.com/progressiveed.htm
more statistical deciets
Posted by one under god, Saturday, 17 May 2008 11:27:43 PM
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