burke510: December 2011 Archives

While I learned so much in Psych 1001, one thing I am certain I will remember years from now is the use of statistics and data. Specifically, lying with statistics.

As horrible as this may seem, I am extremely proud of the fantastic twisting of statistics to back an argument I was making. I needed to make the argument that the private sector was better off than the public sector. Now, I understand that "better off" is entirely opinion based on benefits, salaries, and happiness with their jobs. I made the statement that "on average, the private sector makes more yearly." While this statement is true, the numbers are fairly distorted by the extremely rich such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. These super rich bring the AVERAGE way up. Because of these outliers, MEDIAN would be a much more useful number when comparing the public sector to private sector. If I had used the median to make my argument, I'm fairly certain that the public sector's median is higher.

This skill will stick with me because I feel that it is extremely useful to be familiar with statistics in order to make an argument like mine above, and not fall prey to some tactic like mine.

PS: A few weeks ago in class a lecturer abused statistics to make a point seem more significant than it actually was. He displayed a bar graph that showed results of a test to prove causation of some activity. The bar graph appeared to show a very large difference in the bars, but if one looked closely at the Y axis, you would notice that the difference in the bars wasn't significant at all. He had simply used a very small interval as his scale.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries written by burke510 in December 2011.

burke510: November 2011 is the previous archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.