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View Diary: This week in science: Red Rover, Red Rover, nothing new to send over? (80 comments)

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  •  The only problem is that you will never ... (5+ / 0-)

    get about 30% of the public to believe that this is not a hoax because about 30% of any population are either incompetent or insane.  Another 10% or so can be led in one direction or another, depending on how much Fox News they watch.  Finally you have the 60% or so who can be persuaded by real data, but some of which can occasionally be taken in by false statistical analysis (Note: what I just stated is not based on solid statistical analysis and should be taken with a large grain of salt - it is roughly based on the current percentage of people who now accept the idea that man caused global warming is real - at about 53% as I recall - plus a fudge factor of 7% to give some people who have no opinion the benefit of the doubt - THIS IS THUS NOT A SET OF SCIENTIFIC STATEMENTS, but partially snark on my part.

    A good example of bad statistical analysis that shows up in magazines, blogs and newspapers is a recent ranking of the "Most Dangerous Campuses in the United States."  A local New Mexico university was ranked #2 after a major California institution.  As I know the New Mexico institution well and have even walked the campus in the wee hours of the morning alone, I was somewhat shocked by the rating - until I discovered the following:

    1. The rankings were based on FBI reports which included the disclaimer that the data were only partial and should never be used for ranking schools!

    2. The ratings were based on a student population on the main campus, but did not include the population at the associated junior college, while still counting crimes committed on the junior college campus!

    3. The ratings were based on crimes committed on the whole campus, including outlying desert and mountains owned by the university, but on which almost no students would be found and included such things as writing graffiti on or defacing property along a road across the freeway from the main campus.

    4.  Only a fraction of the universities in the United States were considered in the report.

    5.  There was no correction for schools who did not accurately report their crime statistics, thus those with more accurate reporting were penalized.

    How to lie with statistics!  No wonder "science," as presented to the public, is sometimes looked at with suspicion.  Boy do we need critical thinking!

    •  Amen, DS! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Desert Scientist

      We have a woefully ignorant electorate when it comes to science.

      “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

      by skohayes on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 07:05:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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