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 Don't statisticians rule the world today?

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sianabelle

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PostSubject: Don't statisticians rule the world today?   Fri Jun 07, 2013 2:32 pm

I often wonder where opinions come from these days. It's not so hard to see ideas spreading or being derided when you're paying attention, and whether someone is simply propagating (repeating or reporting) them. However one must suppose that decision-makers or gate-keepers to decisions exist in places (people call them 'they' or 'the powers that be'). It is assumed that it is always the ones with the money. But you know what, they generally consult with their statisticians. How often do you hear statistics quoted as the final proof of an argument, and half the time people think 'how would I know, that's mathematics and I'm not good at that'. The thing is, when I studied statistics, it became apparent that you could influence the report of the outcome of experimental data simply be choosing which statistical tests to use. Most people don't understand statistical tests and data so you probably won't get caught if you want people to believe what you want. Interestingly, data/phenomena that are so extreme that they cannot be explained can be excluded as 'outliers' and not included in the calculations. These data may then be deleted and few people are bothered.

Presumably there is a code of practice amongst statisticians for veracity and integrity? I would like to know more. I do like to trace the history of opinions, and compare their spheres of influence.

I apologize if this sounds like it has nothing to do with zen, but I thought the point of zen was to look at reality.
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Don't statisticians rule the world today?   Tue Jun 11, 2013 6:08 pm

Hi Sianabelle - interesting questions. And it's fine if they have nothing to do with Zen (although they might, and if so, I wouldn't know but the Zen people will).

I wonder if any statisticians among us will talk about how they view veracity and integrity, things like that. Also wonder how much of their methodology is influenced by the entity paying their salary and the overall goals/mission of the department they report to?

Some people like to consume numbers, don't they, as part of their morning & evening news meal, and of course executives rely on stats to guide their decisions. I tend to tune out numbers, myself - would rather consider actual results or concrete, visible outcomes. If a group says they'll do X, but they fall short and then whinge about it, my opinion will arise from the observation of the behaviour in that particular incident. It won't help if they tell me how many other times something else went well. If I don't care about the subject matter of those other examples, it won't make much of a dent in the opinion that was created around the thing(s) I do care about.

I wish everyone was exposed to intro-level statistics as part of primary education, along with that very-important caveat concerning how methodology can influence outcomes. We should be trained to question the presentation of number-facts instead of swallowing them whole -
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Howard

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PostSubject: Re: Don't statisticians rule the world today?   Tue Jun 11, 2013 8:52 pm

Most stats remind me that in politics, its not the truth or falsity of a statement that's important but how many times that statement is repeated. Stats are usually short code for the longer story we wish to sell.

That folks belief in something can be gained by its repetition only confirms that

over 50% of us are just monkeys in shoes.

over 50% of us are just monkeys in shoes

over 50% of us are just monkeys in shoes

over 50% of..........banana anyone?
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Don't statisticians rule the world today?   Tue Jun 11, 2013 10:29 pm

yes please, with a splash of liquor and a nice sizzling flambe touch Smile
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