Monday, 7 March 2011

How to avoid the doom and gloom of statistical thinking (Part 1 of 5)

If you are planning to consult statistics before making a major decision, you'd better check your sources twice. Many proclaimed truths are solely based on opinion. Countless times, surveys do little more than elevate preferences to models of conduct that are to be followed out of convenience or for personal gain.

Every morning, we should remind ourselves that serious errors have been committed in the past by placing blind trust in numbers produced by self-interested parties.

There is no future in repeating the faults of History. Our best protection against misguided statistics is not searching for alternative data, but using our common sense to interpret the conclusions presented to us.

We should check if the recommendations match our experience and knowledge of the world. We should assess the consequences of the outcome of such surveys, ask ourselves uncomfortable questions, and take the necessary time to think things through.

To be continued in Part 2


[Image by andre.tomasi under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under]