Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics


While it is very true to say that Maths never lie, the problem with research generally is the questions being asked. Two pieces of research on exactly the same issue can bring very different results because they have asked the questions in very different results.

To understand research, you must understand the context in which it was produced and the exact questions being asked. The first is easy to discovery as the organisation paying for the research is always too willing to raise their hand. All research is commissioned with an agenda and this must be understood if you are really able to understand what you are being asked to believe at face value.

But the exact questions is the bit the people behind the research never want to explain as they prefer you accept the wild statements they make. Also the sample size is so important and revealing to know if the research is creditable or just nonsense.

I feel right now too much research is being produced on the welfare reforms to provide a bank of lies which the protesters believe said long enough will be regarded as the truth. Just think a little more next time you hear about the latest research. 


If you like what I say, have a look at my website at www.simonstevens.com or follow me on twitter, @simonstevens74

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