Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the by Joel Best

By Joel Best

Right here, through renowned call for, is the up to date version to Joel Best's vintage consultant to realizing how numbers can confuse us. In his new afterword, most sensible makes use of examples from contemporary coverage debates to mirror at the demanding situations to enhancing statistical literacy. considering the fact that its ebook ten years in the past, Damned Lies and records has emerged because the go-to instruction manual for recognizing undesirable information and studying to imagine seriously approximately those influential numbers.

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Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the Media, Politicians, and Activists (Updated Edition)

Right here, via well known call for, is the up-to-date variation to Joel Best's vintage consultant to realizing how numbers can confuse us. In his new afterword, most sensible makes use of examples from contemporary coverage debates to mirror at the demanding situations to bettering statistical literacy. due to the fact its ebook ten years in the past, Damned Lies and records has emerged because the go-to guide for recognizing undesirable records and studying to imagine severely approximately those influential numbers.

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Extra info for Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the Media, Politicians, and Activists (Updated Edition)

Sample text

In part, this is because we are innumerate. ”9 Just as some people cannot read or read poorly, many people have trouble thinking clearly about numbers. One common innumerate error involves not distinguishing among large numbers. A very small child may be pleased by the gift of a penny; a slightly older child understands that a penny or even a dime can’t buy much, but a dollar can buy some things, ten dollars considerably more, and a hundred dollars a great deal (at least from a child’s point of view).

There are three basic questions that deserve to be asked whenever we encounter a new statistic. 1. Who created this statistic? Every statistic has its authors, its creators. Sometimes a number comes from a particular individual. On other occasions, large organizations (such as the Bureau of the Census) claim authorship (although each statistic undoubtedly reflects the work of particular people within the organization). In asking who the creators are, we ought to be less concerned with the names of the particular individuals who produced a number than with their part in the public drama about statistics.

Their guesses are far more likely to overestimate than underestimate a problem’s size. (Activists also favor round numbers. 3) 34 soft facts Being little more than guesses — and probably guesses that are too high—usually will not discredit activists’ estimates. After all, the media ask activists for estimates precisely because they can’t find more accurate statistics. Reporters want to report facts, activists’ numbers look like facts, and it may be difficult, even impossible to find other numbers, so the media tend to report the activists’ figures.

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