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Nine Point Guide to Spotting Doggy Statistics



It is election season, and even without elections governments and business love quoting statistics. So how do you tell if a statistic is doggy?  The Guardian Newspaper kindly has provided us with a set of tests which can be used to determine the "doggy factor".  These includes: -

  • Use a real number but change its meaning
  • Make the number look big (but not too big)
  • Casually imply causation from correlation
  • Choose your definitions carefully
  • Use total numbers rather than proportions (or whichever way suits your argument)
  • Don’t provide any relevant context
  • Exaggerate the importance of a possibly illusory change
  • Prematurely announce the success of a policy initiative using unofficial selected data
  • If all else fails, just make the numbers up

A great set of stories and examples behind each of these.  One of those great weekend reads.

Comments by Mary Sue Rogers

 

Posted On : 21-09-16

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