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Unformatted text preview: Module 5: Lies, Darned Lies & Statistics (Benjamin Disraeli) A British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, was noted to say: There are three levels of untruth in this world: lies, damned lies and statistics (1868). Why would he say such a thing? Another quote heard is figures lie and liars figure (Samuel Clemens, a/k/a Mark Twain). How did statistics get such a bad reputation? Possibly because people are impressed by statistics. The statement: Four out of five doctors recommend sweets for breakfast could well be true, but who are these four or five doctors? Are they doctors of medicine (MDs) or of history (PhDs)? Was the total sample thousands of doctors or five. In addition to sample size, theres always the issue of the question itself. Depending on how a survey question is asked, it could cause a very different answer. In the above example, what if these doctors had been asked Is it better for people to have sweets for breakfast or right before bed? Their answer could been asked Is it better for people to have sweets for breakfast or right before bed?...
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- Spring '10