The Huff

January 19th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, religion, statistics, telegraph | 45 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday January 19 2008

In 1954 a man called Darrell Huff published a book called “How to lie with statistics“. Chapter one is called “the sample with built in bias” and it reads exactly like this column, which I’m about to write, on a Daily Telegraph story in 2008.

Huff sets up his headline: “The average Yaleman, Class of 1924, makes $25,111 a year!” said Time magazine, half a century ago. That figure sounded pretty high: Huff chases it, and points out the flaws. How did they find all these people they asked? Who did they miss? Losers tend to drop off the alma mater radar, whereas successful people are in Who’s Who and the College Record. Did this introduce “selection bias” into the sample? And how did they pose the question? Can that really be salary rather than investment income? Can you trust people when they self-declare their income? Is the figure spuriously precise? And so on.

In the intervening fifty years this book has sold one and a half million copies, it’s the greatest selling stats book of all time (tough market) and it remains in print, at just eight pounds ninety nine.

Meanwhile “Doctors say no to abortions in their surgeries” is the headline in the Daily Telegraph. “Family doctors are threatening a revolt against Government plans to allow them to perform abortions in their surgeries, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.” A revolt? “Four out of five GPs do not want to carry out terminations even though the idea is being tested in NHS pilot schemes, a survey has revealed.”

A survey. Channeling Huff through my fingers, in a trancelike state, I went in search of the figures. Is this a systematic survey of all GPs, with lots of chasing to catch the non-responders? Telephoning them at work? A postal survey, at least? No. It was an informal poll through an online chat site for doctors, producing this major news story about a profession threatening a revolt.

The question was this: “GPs should carry out abortions in their surgeries” You can “Strongly agree, agree, don’t know, disagree, strongly disagree.”

I might be slow, but I myself do not fully understand this question. Is that “should” as in “should”, as in, “ought to” as in “coerced”? And in what circumstances? With extra training, time, and money? With extra systems clearly in place for adverse outcomes? This is a chat website where doctors go to grumble, cynically, in good company. Are they saying “no” because of more work and low morale? Would you even click the “abortion” link in the chat pages index, if you didn’t already have an interest in abortion?

And stepping bravely beyond the second word “should”, what do they mean by “carry out abortions in their surgeries”? Looking at the comments in the chat forum – as I am right now – plenty of the doctors seemed to think the question referred to surgical abortions, not the relatively safe oral pill for termination of early pregnancy. Doctors aren’t all that bright, you see.

Here are some quotes from the doctors there. “This is a preposterous idea. How can GP’s ever carry out abortions in their own surgeries. What if there was a major complication like uterine and bowel perforation?” “The only way it would or rather should happen is if GP practices have a surgical day care facility as part of their premises which is staffed by appropriately trained staff, i.e. theatre staff, anaesthetist and gynaecologist… any surgical operation is not without its risks, and presumably [we] will undergo gynaecological surgical training in order to perform.”

“What are we all going on about? Let’s all carry out abortions in our Surgeries, living rooms, kitchens, garages, corner shops, you know, just like in the old days.” Oh, and my favourite: “I think that the question is poorly worded and I hope that DNUK do not release the results of this poll to the Daily Telegraph.”


Seriously, if you haven’t read it, the book only takes about two hours to get through, and it remains a ripper. Highlights include “Correlation does not imply causation” and “Using Random Sampling“, as well as the obvious critique of graphs which is always worth re-doing. What’s surprising is how most of it feels so obvious now, and yet the same old canards show up time and again in newspapers.

For the real Huff fanboy there is also this:

Darrell Huff and Fifty Years of “How to Lie with Statistics“.

Statistical Science, 20 (3), 2005, 205–209.

If you like what I do, and you want me to do more, you can: buy my books Bad Science and Bad Pharma, give them to your friends, put them on your reading list, employ me to do a talk, or tweet this article to your friends. Thanks! ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

45 Responses

  1. stever said,

    January 19, 2008 at 12:32 am

    well said.

    The Telegraph last week, on the front page, claimed ‘Abuse of cannabis puts 500 a week in hospital’.

    A quick check of the stats revealed the actual number to be 14 a week.

    [url=]blogged here[/url]

  2. Humphrey said,

    January 19, 2008 at 1:28 am

    I’ve designed consultations to come out with the answer I want, and surveys to actually find out what people think. They’re very different beasts!

    As a rule of thumb, I trust no survey data unless I can see the question set and sample size. Anything less than 1000 (preferably 1500) isn’t really statistically valid. (And even then, if it’s about what “the country” thinks I need to know how they weight the demographics).

  3. PeggyK said,

    January 19, 2008 at 2:04 am

    I have a copy of “How to Lie with Statistics” and it’s excellent. It really explains statistical tricks in an easy-to-understand way. I think it should be required reading for all high school students – and reporters.

  4. le canard noir said,

    January 19, 2008 at 2:07 am

    Unfortunately, I think that “How to Lie with Statistics” has become “Statistics Lie” in popular culture which creates an immediate distrust of evidence that is statistical in nature. No one can see what is good stats and bad stats any more.

  5. Bob O'H said,

    January 19, 2008 at 7:52 am

    I know what I’m re-reading this weekend.

    I bet the sequel isn’t as good. They never are.


  6. CelticLeopard said,

    January 19, 2008 at 9:46 am

    “Doctors aren’t all that bright, you see.”

    I wonder if Dr Goldacre has brought to the Guardian readers attention how bigPharma has statistically conned doctors into prescribing statins, for tiny benefits at enormous cost. I recommend ‘The Great Cholesterol Con’ by Malcolm Kendrick, who cleverly illustrates this massive scientific scam with great honesty.

    PS. The bogus cholesterol-industrial-complex probably costs the UK taxpayer around £2 billion per year.

  7. evidencebasedeating said,

    January 19, 2008 at 9:58 am

    Well, as ‘David Brent’ says –

    ‘Statistics are like a lamp-post to a drunken man – more for leaning on than illumination’

  8. Ken Zetie said,

    January 19, 2008 at 10:42 am

    A lot of this is driven by the need of reporters to, well, report something. If there ain’t a story, well goddam it they’ll make one. During election campaigns (and these dreadful primary things) it’s amazing how much ink and dead tree is devoted to a huge analysis of why part X has leapt ahead 2% in the polls and now leads party Y. And then you look at the stats published, in the same paper, on the same day, on the same page and in little writing next to the numbers it says “Error 3%”. And you’re left thinking “there isn’t a story here at all is there?”.

    There are hard statistical problems. There are hard maths problems. But it’s no excuse for not understanding the absolute basics which are pretty trivial and frankly more to do with psychology than maths – it’s about who you ask, when you ask and what you ask.

    Anyone who wants a lovely example of a survey designed to get the answer you want should look at the Heathrow expansion questionnaire which was sent out to all homes in the area. I was struggling to understand which way to answer some of the questions and it was nearly impossible to offer the simple opinion that you opposed the expansion.


  9. Maarten Van Hemelen said,

    January 19, 2008 at 10:43 am

    I was véry angry at our public television broadcasting network lately. A women’s magazine had done a “survey” which found that “8 out of ten women still sleep with their exes.” Believe me, it’s not the kind of magazine that hires proper bureaus for conducting surveys, more the kind that puts a survey in their magazine, and gets reply by a small portion of their readers. It’s all very nice to have something like that in your crap magazine only very credulous people take literally (unfortunately I have became aware of the giant number of very credulous people lately), but broadcasting it nation-wide is another matter. Shame on you, TV!

  10. jell said,

    January 19, 2008 at 11:35 am

    I have to support your comments about Huff’s book. I have a copy on my bookshelf and was browsing it only yesterday. An excellent and timeless read, and still in print after 50 years.

  11. BellaDonna said,

    January 19, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    i am realley getting addicted to doctor ben — and that’s after reading just TWO of his great columms! I have even discovered from the comments on his last columm that my dear mum was italian not spanish! (just a joke, it was me who never learned spanish from her who was at fault) but what exactly have statins got to do with the crazy journalists at the telegraph, mr leoplod? surely you should be asking why can’t other journalists be as brave at exposing the unpleasant truth about the lies their colleagues as doctor ben is. he is definately a hero of our time! just as doctor huff was of course.

  12. Ben Goldacre said,

    January 19, 2008 at 12:24 pm


    Unfortunately, I think that “How to Lie with Statistics” has become “Statistics Lie” in popular culture which creates an immediate distrust of evidence that is statistical in nature. No one can see what is good stats and bad stats any more.

    I agree, I think it’s a real problem that the outcome of all this can easily become an undifferentiated cynicism about all numbers, rather than critical appraisal of what they mean.

    Annoyingly, of course, the cheap ad hominem shortcuts can be quite effective as an alternative. Instead of bothering with my piece above, or Stever’s great blog on their bogus cannabis stats front pager, you could have just said to yourself “well it’s the telegraph, they hate abortion and drugs, if they have figures to back that up they’re bound to be bogus”.

    Having said that, really all the media monitoring nonsense is just an excuse to be nerdy about unpicking numbers and their meaning. In the same way that my friend Patrick Matthews used to claim that one night stands were an excuse for drinking, rather than the other way around.

  13. Tommi Himberg said,

    January 19, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    I agree with lecanardnoir & Ben G. that often science and statistics are seen in a bipolar fashion: either everything even remotely scientific wins your trust (this mascara makes your eyelashes 78% more gorgeous, people peddling their exercise miracle machines are wearing labcoats etc.) or then you distrust it all (and rather believe people talking about holistic care etc.).

    Oh, evidencebasedeating, that’s my favourite quote. It’s been attributed to Andrew Lang, who in a debate referred to his opponent: “He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lampposts – for support rather than illumination.”

    Statistics don’t lie, people do. 🙂

  14. Gimpy said,

    January 19, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    Annoyingly, of course, the cheap ad hominem shortcuts can be quite effective as an alternative.

    Maybe this is the real problem with newspaper reporting of statistics. Newspapers, like most people, tend to approach issues from a pre-defined ideological position. This naturally results in bias where results favourable to ones position are subject to less scrutiny than results which go against. Combined with a general ignorance of statistics this results in stories such as the subject of your critique above. Now is the real issue the journalist knowingly presenting a duff survey in support of a position, unknowingly presenting it, or not really caring enough about it to subject it to any scrutiny? TBH I’d say a combination of the latter two. Most people don’t care about the validity of evidence so much as what that evidence says about their prejudices and ideological positions. Life is easier that way, nobody likes having gut feelings or long held commitments overturned. It’s easy to be a bit lazy and not think about things too hard just focus on the things immediately important to oneself without looking for an overarching, and overwhelming, theory of everything.
    I think your high minded calls for a proper evidence base for things will largely go unheeded by the majority of the population because it requires too much thought and effort.

    ps apologies for weekend cynicism.

  15. Ben Goldacre said,

    January 19, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    well, similarly, it’s also perfectly possible that we would only double check the facts behind stories that strike us at face value as being nonsense, like these antiabortion and antidrugs stories in the telegraph. this is a special call for bogus media stories which bogusly reinforce our own views. although i’m not sure what my views are on most stuff.

  16. danbeck said,

    January 19, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    In response to our Troll du Jour, CelticLeopard (and apologies for feeding him/her) I will quote our host before attempting to iron out today’s foible
    ….critiques of character and finance are a poor substitute for a sober analysis of the data…

    It seems you are taking an angle well known to regular readers of the comments section, namely the ‘Ben must be in the pay of Big-Pharma because he has not written about exactly what I am concerned about today’ approach.

    A quick look at the ‘Medicalising’ tab in the left column shows 8 articles, and one in particular “The Pill Problem” is a particularly accurate portrayal of the methods the pharmaceutical industry employ in flogging us their wares. A second, “I have nothing to declare…” deals with your particular brand of mud-slinging.

    Now to attempt to respond to your “bogus cholesterol-industrial-complex” comment. I think there is definitely a debate to be had regarding how much we in the UK are willing to spend through our health service on prevention and treatment, what proportion we should spend on each, and what constitutes ‘worth paying for’, and what doesn’t. It should be decided centrally so as not to discriminate regionally and also to avoid clinicians having to make judgements on a case by case basis- clinicians should not be torn from their duty as acting as their patients’ advocate. We have bodies like NICE who weigh evidence (granted ideally their judgements would happen quicker) and also academic institutes such as DARE and EED ( who spend their days commissioning research, free of the stickiness of industry funding, formulating models of cost effectiveness.

    I confess to no having read this ‘The Great Cholesterol Con’ by Malcolm Kendrick, but allow me to direct you to a plain English summary of an excellent systematic review (compilation of all the best evidence available on a particular subject and appraisal of its quality and outcomes) from Bandolier, an excellent, web-based source of reliable information, Health economics of statin: .

    Especially praiseworthy is its notation of which studies had industry sponsorship. Rather than being the scandal you allude to, we see a situation where arbitrary lines have to be placed based on out knowledge of the risks and harms of treatment and the mathematics of rare events (similar to last weeks BS column on population screening)- very interesting stuff.

    I will end with their concluding sentences (although we should be alert to the fact that articles can sometimes present conclusions no consistent with the results and there is therefore no substitute to reading an entire article):

    “The bottom line is that statins are certainly cost-effective for those with a 10-year CHD risk of 30% or more, but that costs would limit a lower treatment threshold. Many individuals with a 10-year risk of lower than 15% and with a total cholesterol above 5 mmol/L or a total to HDL cholesterol above 5 might also judge that buying their own statin would be a personally sensible cost-effective purchase. As the public become more educated about risk, the level at which the state pays and at which the individual pays will become a hot potato”.

  17. Dr* T said,

    January 19, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    What? You mean it isn’t “black and white”? 🙂

    I went to get out my Huff earlier and remembered I’d lent it to a friend. Turns out he really enjoyed and lent it to a friend….

    Still, I guess it’s better than collecting dust on my shelf.

  18. CelticLeopard said,

    January 19, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    “surely you should be asking why can’t other journalists be as brave at exposing the unpleasant truth about the lies their colleagues as doctor ben is. he is definately a hero of our time! just as doctor huff was of course.”

    I do love the Belladonna … and oh how she does bloom … and the pure fragrance of the flower!!

    I agree – peace for our time, the good doctor is the true hero of our time.

    And if only Dr Goldacre would transmogrify … and use his bounteous talents as Doctor Huffy the Vampire Slayer – to slay those damned statin statistics – and save £2 billion every year for the health of the British sausage eater.

    PS. And Danbeck is a real sweetie too!

  19. Ben Goldacre said,

    January 19, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    if anyone has some good examples of prominent media outlets or pill pushers overstating the numbers on the benefits of statins do let me know.

    incidentally i hope nobody missed the follow up to the ezetimibe story, it’s in the miniblog, negative outcome, zillions more since here:

  20. CatInTheHat said,

    January 20, 2008 at 12:03 am

    One statistical ‘lie’ that really sticks in my mind was on Newsnight a few years ago. You come to expect these kinds of stories from various newspapers, but I used to take Newsnight and C4 news as fairly authoritative.

    The story was about how deaf students are discriminated against at university.

    The only evidence provided was the proportion of people with hearing impairments among students at university and in the general population. I can’t remember the exact numbers but it was of the order of 1% versus 15-20%. The first number is bigger than the second, ergo universities discriminate against students with hearing impairments.

    There was then a big discussion (chaired by Paxman I recall) about why universities still discriminate against people with disabilities, but in all their moral outrage, nobody pointed out that the general population estimate was so high it must have included senior citizens (who don’t tend to go to university, Jeremy).

    There may well be some truth in the story and hearing impaired students are under-represented. But by cherry-picking the most extreme statistics to support their story, the whole thing was undermined.

    In general, I think there’s a problem with the way maths is taught in schools. Most people hate it and are never going to have to work out the volume of a dodecahedron or understand differential equations and imaginary numbers.

    What everyone does need is (a) basic understanding of personal finances; and (b) the ability to critically evaluate statistical information (eg relative risks) so they can make informed decisions.

    Maybe Huff should be on the curriculum.

  21. CatInTheHat said,

    January 20, 2008 at 12:08 am

    And maybe I should go back to school. 1% is SMALLER than 15%. D’oh.

  22. tin robot said,

    January 20, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Ah. Malcolm Kendrick. I’ve been quietly hoping you would cover Dr Kendrick at some point, as it always seems to me that there’s a story there if only had the time and contacts to look into it. I’ve certainly read his book – I was given a copy by a concerned statin taker, and it certainly contains some fine examples of the techniques Huff describes. (It’s probably worth pointing out here than I’m far from 100% sold on statins myself, particularly for primary prevention in women.)

    Kendrick seems to be an interesting character though – his book enjoys remarkable prominence in “debates” on statins in the usual suspects (The Mail etc), and he is usually described as a GP who has worked in medical education and with the European Society of Cardiology. A quick search reveals that the latter activity is whilst working for Adelphi Lifelong Learning – a subset of Adelphi, a company who, in their words: “have successfully supported the development, launch and marketing of an extremely wide range of pharmaceutical brands in all therapeutic areas”, placing him firmly in the pocket of pharmaceutical companies himself (and explaining how he is able to enjoy such a high level of media attention). Interestingly, the work for the European Society of Cardiology would appear to be their educational website – which has a series of interactive case studies which amongst other things support, wait for it, the use of statins…

    There is, and will continue to be for some time, a need for further debate over the use of statins, but I’m afraid that Dr Kendrick’s views require more than a pinch of salt.

  23. CelticLeopard said,

    January 20, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    “There is, and will continue to be for some time, a need for further debate over the use of statins, but I’m afraid that Dr Kendrick’s views require more than a pinch of salt.”

    @danbeck and tin robot, medico-statistical maestros of the great cholesterol circus

    Who is the great British sausage eater to believe? Does he believe the statistical porkies of Malcolm Kendrick or the huffy fraudsters of the multi-billion dollar statin-industrial complex? This is one of the great questions of out time: statistically saving British bacon depends on the answer.

  24. stephenh said,

    January 21, 2008 at 10:21 am

    Huff is essential reading, nice article.

    @Humphrey, to say a sample of “less than 1000 (preferably 1500) isn’t really statistically valid” is a bit silly. It depends what you’re trying to prove, really. A sample size of 100 or even 50 could be perfectly adequate for some situations.

    Your other point, about weighting the sample if you’re trying to say things about the whole UK population, is much more important.

  25. parkenf said,

    January 21, 2008 at 11:11 am

    Sample size: vaguely remembering my school stats (and I ought to be better as I did stats at university too, before I switched to Theoretical Physics) the useful rule of thumb was that n * p > 5, where n is sample size and p is the rough probability you’re testing. So if you’re testing the effect of environmental factor F on disease D with population prevalence 0.1% you need a sample size of at least 5000. Is that right?

  26. niall said,

    January 21, 2008 at 3:21 pm


    No, not really – the “probability you’re testing for” is the effect size of the environmental factor on the disease, not the prevalence of the disease in the population (although that has a big impact on the sample size as well). So, there isn’t really a good rule of thumb for the situation you’re describing. However, for a population prevalence of 0.001, the required sample size for most reasonable effect sizes (say and odds ratio of 5 or lower) is going to be at least 3000 and more likely much, much larger, so you’re in the right ball-park…

  27. Observer said,

    January 21, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    An article in the Washington Post confirmed my suspicions about the statistical validity of political polls. I had written their ombudsman noting that people who refused to answer the poll raised hell with the confidence intervals that were specified. The answer to my complaint is that they just keep on calling until they get a large enough sample! This hardly represents a random sample of the entire population.

  28. Robert Carnegie said,

    January 22, 2008 at 2:49 am

    I think it was on [A Daily Show] that some pollster expressed himself fairly relaxed about whether the figures came out the same as the vote or not. In fact, I think he mentioned that they go on phoning people until enough people gave them a set of answers. There must be better ways to do it. How about if they give a small gift to participants, or a charity donation, and, let’s see… have them publish a toll-free number, then they phone around people and hand out numbers to participate when you call back, such as 0435-29.

    But if they could mug voters in the street and interrogate them using truth drugs, they still wouldn’t beat the sample size problem. Reliable opinion polls are many times more expensive than unreliable ones.

  29. stephenh said,

    January 22, 2008 at 11:07 am

    That’s true, and the cost isn’t seen to be worth it because even the “reliable” ones aren’t reliable.

    People lie when you ask them who they voted for, people accidentally vote for the wrong candidate, people spoil their papers by accident, exit polls miss postal voters, and so on…

    All of which notwithstanding, opinion polls tend to be fairly accurate.

    Unfortunately consumers of research (like papers) often obsess about sample SIZE to the detriment of sample quality and response rate.

  30. quietstorm said,

    January 22, 2008 at 10:34 pm

    I agree with stephenh – sample size is important, but if you have 5000 answers to a poll it might still be rubbish if 18000 people decided not to bother answering the poll because they weren’t all that interested…

    As an aside, thanks for the tip re the “How to Lie with Statistics” book – looks very helpful. I’m going to get a copy to put with “Straight and Crooked Thinking” on my shelf, although it sounds like the statistics one may be an easier read (I never thought I’d say that about a statistics book….)

  31. BrickWall said,

    January 23, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    Can’t remember who I’m probably misquoting but going right back to LeCanardNoir’s point on the current popularisation that “statistics lie” I try to respond whenever possible: “Yes its easy to lie with statistics but its even easier to lie without them.”

    Then I just get ignored as a pompous arse but at least I’ve made a point!

  32. JoanCrawford said,

    January 24, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    CelticLeopards thoughts on statins seem interesting.

    Suggest separate thread, and/or links to clear evidence of misrepresentation.

  33. Delster said,

    January 24, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    It’s very easy to skew even a survey that picks people on the street at random.

    In the case of a political survey as mentioned above, you could simply pop to the local shopping centre midafternoon IE after workers are back in work leaving mainly local residents in the place, in a staunchly conservative / labor / whatever area and then pick people at random.

    The appearance of randomness is there but you’ve skewed the input.

    As with all things statistical all possible input bias have to be either taken into account and allowed for or measures should be taken to screen the bias out in the first place.

    Also as BG points out, how you phrase a question has a huge effect on how people will answer it.

    I could personally re-write the question relating to abortions in the surgeries in half a dozen different ways which would get 6 different returns.

    Incidently i think that minor surgery clinics in GP centres are a good idea and i actually had a minor op in one myself once. Much handier than the day care ward in hospitals which require you to be there the whole day for a 20 minute proceedure.

  34. Robert Carnegie said,

    January 25, 2008 at 12:31 am

    Easier to lie without statistics than with? Hmm. Statistics are something that folks can check up on, but if they’re doing that, didn’t you already fail to lie convincingly? And on the other hand, “accurate” but misleading statistics may be published by a source more reputable than yourself. So if your audience -do- test your story, it looks good. I believe I’m confused.

  35. marcdraco said,

    February 1, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    Ah well. My copy turned up from Amazon today (at last). So I won’t be gettin’ me leg over for a while judging by that.

  36. marcdraco said,

    February 1, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    Or perhaps I should have said, statistically, I had a better chance of bumping uglies with the missus if I wasn’t too busy reading Ben’s book recommendations.

    I should have stuck with Silas Marner.

  37. ScottishNaturalist said,

    February 6, 2008 at 5:36 am

    Just got my copy of this in the post today. Quite cheap and looks like a quick read.

  38. marcdraco said,

    February 12, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    The thing is, it’s the sort of book that changes your life! Every survey, every percentage you see makes you think: is that right?? Who says? Was the sample biased and so on.

    Quite brilliant (thanks Ben).

  39. montmorency said,

    March 4, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Dr Malcolm Kendrick has been mentioned a few times.

    Anyone who is interested in his views (whether pro or anti) should be aware that he is not alone.

    For example:

    and all good “Bad Scientists” should really read

    “The Diet Delusion” by Gary Taubes, published in the USA as
    “Good Calories, Bad Calories”.

    Statins are a wonderful example of tinkering with a symptom and having no really positive effect on the underlying condition(s).

    The question of who pays for them is almost irrelevant by comparison, except that in many cases we are all paying for them, and I hate my money being wasted.


  40. montmorency said,

    March 5, 2008 at 10:46 am

    Sorry to follow up my own posting, but here is a contribution from an apparently fairly mainstream source which is sympathetic to Kendrick’s views:

    Mike Ellwood, aka,

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  43. mdafne said,

    September 8, 2014 at 6:55 am

    This article really does make you think about what you read in the papers. Instead of just assuming that the news is bad because the title says so we should look deeper into the data and into the question. As the author points out how was the data compiled? Is it biased? There are so many questions which one could ask about the value and reliability of the data and many times the media uses words to their advantage in order to get a headline.

  44. Rianabiology said,

    September 12, 2014 at 6:14 am

    I think this article is really fascinating talking about the huff of the statistics and how people get fouled so easily that it is surprising the amount of people use it day to day life and some people don’t even doesn’t they are get trolled and I think this article is pretty detailed about the different ways too and resources they used.

  45. lovish21 said,

    September 14, 2014 at 11:14 pm

    The idea of statistics in a surface level seems logistical appropriate to use in arguments a conclusion statement; however, many are unaware of the idea deception that is present within a statistic data. As addressed above in the article, surveys are most often used to generalize the opinion or perception of a large target population or sample size. But, there many fault the wording of questions and the approach many takes towards answering the questions. First, it is easy to lie about the answers as it tends be anonymous where no one will be able to figure who answer which answers. Then, there is the issue with the diction of the question where there are several connotations of each word – this causing confusion among people leading to wrong results of the survey. The idea of statistics can be easily related to consumer role of being deceived by various marketing tactics such as percentage rates and graph presented to them. However, the question of a percentage of how many people or from how many were data collected is rarely questioned when a consumer buys a product. This proves how statistic can easily deceive consumers in daily basis. Furthermore, many researchers try to use data graphing between two correlations or variable to prove their theory – but they do not comprehend that correlation is not causation. In other words doesn’t mean two variables show a correlation, it means that the independent variable caused the effect of change.