Your examples are very timely. In fact, in these days of economic depression statistics can be misused, spun or used inappropriately in many different ways especially by marketers to sell their product. Sometimes this is not even done consciously or intentionally, the resulting facts or analysis may not be necessarily wrong. They may, however, present a partial or overly simplistic picture possibly leading to wrong information. Lots of manipulation and distortion are possible within the field of statistics, though it has mathematical base, it is more of an art as it is of a science.
Given this scenario, what do you think we could do to educate the layperson to ensure finding the real facts?
Graphics along with statistics can be utilized to misrepresent information in several ways. Individuals tend to take in too much mainly due to the fact that marketing messages persuade us to. Via convincing numerical facts, the general people happen to presume that these assertions are scientifically correct (Penrose, 2008). Information can be misrepresented via people’s mistakes, for instance, sampling mistakes which are the most conventional (Groves, 2004). Sampling mistakes come to be mainly due to the distinction in the sample along with the populace.
A very appropriate instance showing the misinterpretation of data was the presidential election of the year 1936 where the magazine Literary Digest foretold that the victor of the election would be Landon. In actuality, Roosevelt emerged as the winner of the selection. The election results were faulty by approximately 20%, this was brought about by a sampling error. The magazine publishers had gotten people’s details from directories, review subscribers along with club affiliations among others. They distributed an estimate of 10 million fake ballots and asked that every one of them is taken back to the magazine firm. From the entire batch of 10 million ballots, just approximately 2.5 million were taken back. This resulted in an even bigger discrepancy. It is very evident that this poll did away with the lesser salary segment of the American populace because approximately 9 million American citizens were still jobless. The Great Depression had just come to a close and not each resident owned or could get hold of a telephone (Wainer, 1997).