Misleading Statistics Are Out There

1 page discussion

This week you will look at misleading information that you are  exposed to every day.  Find an example of a survey or poll or even a  tweet that you think might be misleading.

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How would you support your conclusions? You want to use statistical reasoning here not personal opinion. Places to look might be online polls where anyone can answer.  If the title of a survey is misleading, how would you correct it?

Was the sample representative?  Be  sure to read the methodology of a survey and not only the responses to  the questions.  For example, you may think the sampling was not  representative of the population, but you have to discuss how sampling  was actually done to support your claim.

Another place to look are articles written by people who clearly  don’t understand statistics but use legitimate data like the example  below.

The title of the article, New Low of 49% in U.S. Say Death Penalty Applied Fairly  (https://news.gallup.com/poll/243794/new-low-say-death-penalty-applied-fairly.aspx (Links to an external site.)), is  misleading because 49% is the point estimate.  You have to click on  survey methods at the bottom to find the margin of error was 4%.  This  means the true percentage in the population could have been as low as  45% but as high as 53%. Therefore the title of the article is very  misleading.

After locating your inaccurate poll or article, respond to the following questions.

  • How did the poll or article misrepresent the facts? How might you rewrite the title of the article more accurately?
  • What was the author trying to get you to think? Why?  What could be the ramifications of believing false information?
  • Find and describe an article that refutes this information, if possible.
  • Have you ever been sent articles that you believed just by reading the title? What was the result?

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