How to defend yourself against misleading statistics in the news | Sanne Blauw | deconstraction

Number is an incredible tool that makes us decide, judge and act according to the given evidence with no assumptions. However, not all these statistical numbers are reliable and this is our personal matter believe them or not. Sanne Blauw is a journalist who has a PhD degree in econometrics and is extremely passionate about numbers. Moreover, she had a working experience at the OECD and the University Council. Her talk was dedicated to reveal the misled statistics which everybody encounters with. She provided 5 types of misinforming statistics:
Firstly, the good looking graph
Not all good looking graphs might be presented right. As an example, Sanne introduced the graph of the Planned Parenthood which is non-profit organization providing reproductive health services. This graph was reported by the republican of Congressman as showing negative indicators. However, the presented data was not right as this graph was based by two different scales. Putting these patterns at the same scale would change the situation completely. The rate of cancer-screening and preventive services was decreasing but the abortion rate had hardly removed.misleading-statistic-planned-parenthood

planned-parenthoood-right-scale

Retrieved from https://www.datapine.com
Second, the polluted poll
The headline from the New York Times was presented: “1 in 4 women experience Sex Assault on Campus”. It means almost 25 % of female students face with the cases of sexual assaults. However, the problem with this was that only 20 % of women were involved and the term of sexual assault was not clarified. Consequently, there were non-representative sample of women who interpreted the sexual assault in their own way. That is why it is also a kind of statistical lie. It is always important to see how the data was collected.
Third, the overconfident decimal point
GDP is a great indicator to show the countries` economic stability. According to the reporter this number usually varied as it is so complicated and time-consuming to calculate. Additionally, a huge range of components make GDP considerably difficult to measure. As a result, we cannot fully rely on this total value of country`s economic prosperity.
Forth, the non-spectacular statistics
Before taking some numbers for granted, it is essential to pay attention for details. Therefore, additional context or details might turn more considerable numbers into less ones. The case of bowel cancer risk is considered there. Headline in the Dutch News reported that: “People who eat processed meat daily have a 20 times higher risk of getting bowel cancer”. Sanne emphasized that according to the data there is only 4,4 % chance of getting bowel cancer in the USA. If you eat daily about one hot-dog still this number will increase slightly to 5,2%. However, the chance of NOT getting cancer is significantly greater. So, putting numbers in a context is essential as well.
Fifth, The cocky correlation
Some the same things happen at the same that is why researches assume they are connected with each other somehow. The reported introduced the graph of the increased number of brain tumors from 80s to 90s. The researchers assumed that this increase is due to the invention of artificial sugar at this period. But the reason lied simply on the invention of MRI scanners which contributed to the revealing of more numbers of brain tumors. The speaker described this case as the most dangerous distorted statistic.
Overall, the author raised great ideas and observations worth to spread. During the presentation she was confident and organized. From the very beginning she used a couple of techniques to involve the audience as asking questions, saying jokes and famous statements, as well as proving her personal background information. While making reports people sometimes did not examine the data correctly. From the presented topic we as students can learn to be very careful with numbers despite the original sources and providers. However, some points of her presentation are taken from other internet resources that is why we cannot assume that they are her own ideas. Her speech is seemed dedicated mainly to raise people`s awareness of misinform statistics around us.

2 thoughts on “How to defend yourself against misleading statistics in the news | Sanne Blauw | deconstraction

  1. Dear, ad2018! You have chosen an interesting topic to discuss, which is appropriate for all, who work with statistic data. Honestly, I have never had an idea, that there might be some “errors” in so exact and meticulous source of evidence. As students or possible researchers or possible stakeholders, we should take into consideration above-mentioned nuances. It should be carefully considered especially in quantatitive research design. I found it very helpful in my assignment, which consists of quantatitive analysis, and for my future thesis. Thanks a lot!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is an interesting and informative deconstruction post. I appreciated your summary and analysis of the author’s points. We definitely need better (and more responsible) statisticians in today’s world!

    Several grammatical errors distract from an otherwise high-quality post:
    deconstraction (spelling in title)
    Number is an incredible tool t (numbers are / a number is)
    Moreover, she had a working experience.. (she has experience working for… / she worked for)
    the republican of Congressman (a Republican Congressman?)
    Consequently, there were non-representative sample (subject-verb agreement)
    researches assume (researchers?)
    However, some points of her presentation are taken from other internet resources that is why we cannot assume that they are her own ideas. (run-on sentence)

    4.5/5

    Like

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