By Joel Best
The following, through well known call for, is the up-to-date variation to Joel Best's vintage advisor to figuring out how numbers can confuse us. In his new afterword, top makes use of examples from fresh coverage debates to mirror at the demanding situations to bettering statistical literacy. due to the fact its e-book ten years in the past, Damned Lies and facts has emerged because the go-to instruction manual for recognizing undesirable data and studying to imagine significantly approximately those influential numbers.
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Extra resources for Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the Media, Politicians, and Activists (Updated Edition)
17 In general, activists trying to create a new social problem view false negatives as more troubling than false positives. Remember that activists often feel frustrated because they want to get people concerned about some social condition that has been *Activists often couple big statistics based on broad definitions with compelling examples of the most serious cases. For example, claims about child abuse might feature the case of a murdered child as a typical example, yet oﬀer a statistical estimate that includes millions of less serious instances of abuse and neglect.
Table1AoutHr Survey researchers know that how questions are worded aﬀects results. Advocates who can aﬀord to sponsor their own surveys 46 soft facts Table 1. : MicroCase, 1997). can shape the results; usually they try to demonstrate widespread public support for their position. ) Advocates word questions so as to encourage people to respond in the desired way. ” Most people can be counted on to oppose illegal acts, and such questions routinely find that (according to the gun-control activists’ interpretations of the results) more than three-quarters of Americans favor gun control.
Suppose we want to define sexual violence. Certainly our definition should include soft facts 39 rapes. But what about attempted rapes — should they be included? Does being groped or fondled count? What about seeing a stranger briefly expose himself? * No definition of a social problem is perfect, but there are two principal ways such definitions can be flawed. On the one hand, we may worry that a definition is too broad, that it encompasses more than it ought to include. That is, broad definitions identify some cases as part of the problem that we might think ought not to be included; statisticians call such cases false positives (that is, they mistakenly identify cases as part of the problem).
Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the Media, Politicians, and Activists (Updated Edition) by Joel Best