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Misleading statistical mischief

"The same bit of data can be read in (at least) two ways."

This is a quote from chapter 5 of It Ain't Necessarily So. The chapter went into the details of statistical figures, and how they can be manipulated in order to have a story lean one way or another. I liked the quote that Mitch used in his blog, how "numbers don't lie. The words that surround them do." His point is this: Raw data is data. It is collected and given a value. But as a reader of news stories, we don't know how the data collector went about obtaining that information. Could they have only polled 10 people? If they polled as many as 1000, how many people did they actually have to ask in order to get 1000 answers? When using data as a news writer, we want to keep our bias' in check, and report the exact findings that we have acquired. Don't candy-coat them or make them look a way that they aren't intended to. When it comes down to it, it's all about ethics. Do we want to lie to our readers just to prove an alarming, yet skewed fact? Or do we want to conduct research that is fair, balanced, and relevant, without having to be dolled up?


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