Without learning to think statistically, we'll never know when people are bending the truth | Paul Goodwin

  The Guardian 

Image source : theguardian.com
Some simple checks can help separate an honest statistic from a falsehood School spending hits record levels in England, claims a minister , while some schools close on Friday afternoons because of a lack of funds. China is the biggest environmental polluter in the world,Donald Trump once tweeted . But, per capita, Saudi Arabia emitted the largest tonnage of CO2 in 2018 and China was in 13th place . What is it about statistics that make them a godsend to people intent on reinventing reality? They arrive with a veneer of scientific exactitude and probity – and the more exact they are, the greater their apparent accuracy. Better still, they convey an air of certitude and give us something to grasp on to in a turbulent world. Few of us are inclined to look deeper. But if we do, we’ll often find a mix of crude lies and sleights of hand – slippery definitions, manipulated percentages, cherrypicked comparisons or rough estimates presented as certainties. Continue reading...

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