Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Do Statistics Lie?

This is a post from Samuel, a good friend of mine. The following describes how statistical data can be decieving.

"....A/P Chua Tin Chiu quoted some eye-catching headlines from newsapers,
...."You have 40% chance of living up to 100 years old if you are the first born"
Then he asked: Are you sure about the conclusion statements?..... he said, "The survey has been done in a village in china, where the study was done only to people who live up to 100. However, the number of first born will always be more than the number of 2nd born, who will always be more than the number of 3rd born etc (haha...for obvious reasons right? You need a first born before you can have a 2nd born) and so the number of first born who live up to 100 should also be more than the rest....

A/P Chua quoted more newspaper reports with regards to statistics in newspaper, and asked, "Why do you think percentages have been quoted in areas where direct figures might be more accurate, and vice versa? Isn't it the way the media (or the government) want to bring across a particular idea?

Another wonderful headline that students will love to quote if true,

"Study shows More tuition = poorer grades"

Well, the study was concluded based on a huge pool of students who wrote down their grades, as well as the number of hours they had for private tutoring. But the BIGGEST question is, "How will the students who have private tuition fare, if they do not have private tuition? Isn't it true that those who need private tuition are generally those who may not cope that well, and so extra help to be given?"


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