Twisting statistics

Soldato
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Funny when people do it to suit their political agenda. A Facebook friend posted this on his wall today....

The PCC election costs would fund the entire UK public library network for a month. Voter turnout: less than 20%. Annual visits to public libraries: 320 million.

..which immediately struck as a bit of an unfair comparison. They compare the cost to a month's running costs of the UK libraries but then compare the PCC election turnout with the yearly visitor numbers. Anyway I replied....

Odd use of statistics there. You say the cost of running the election was equal to one month of running public libraries and yet give us the annual visitor numbers when making the attendance comparison. Not really fair.

1 months of library visits would be roughly 26 million, when you factor it that is visits and not people you are looking at at least 13 million (given anyone who borrows a book must visit again to return it).

That's less that 20% of library eligible population. So in fact, you could say for the same money more people turned out for the PCC elections in one day that visit libraries in a whole month.

Now in truth I'm rather apathetic about the whole issue but it does annoy me when people use statistics blatantly to suit their agenda when they know you can look at them in many ways.
 
Associate
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I once had an argument with my girlfriends mother (who is a tax inspector for HMRC), who insisted that 101% did not exist. I argued at length that 101% did exist. It simply meant that you have 100% of something, and then a little bit more, through whatever means, IE intrest etc. Figures such as 300% increase in sales etc, its exactly the same concept, surely? Who was right?
 
Soldato
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I once had an argument with my girlfriends mother (who is a tax inspector for HMRC), who insisted that 101% did not exist. I argued at length that 101% did exist. It simply meant that you have 100% of something, and then a little bit more, through whatever means, IE intrest etc. Figures such as 300% increase in sales etc, its exactly the same concept, surely? Who was right?

did you tap your GF's mum at the end ? if so then she was right and you shouldn't care, if no, must try harder.................
 

ntg

ntg

Associate
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I once had an argument with my girlfriends mother (who is a tax inspector for HMRC), who insisted that 101% did not exist. I argued at length that 101% did exist. It simply meant that you have 100% of something, and then a little bit more, through whatever means, IE intrest etc. Figures such as 300% increase in sales etc, its exactly the same concept, surely? Who was right?

well..she was right 50% and you were right 51%..
 
Soldato
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I once had an argument with my girlfriends mother (who is a tax inspector for HMRC), who insisted that 101% did not exist. I argued at length that 101% did exist. It simply meant that you have 100% of something, and then a little bit more, through whatever means, IE intrest etc. Figures such as 300% increase in sales etc, its exactly the same concept, surely? Who was right?

From a very strict technical viewpoint by definition a percent is between zero and one hundred. Common usage is obviously different. You could say both of you were right but realistically her argument is on somewhat shaky ground as it's completely reliant on a very, very strict interpretation which no one uses.

It's sort of like strictly speaking weight isn't measured in kilograms but everyone still does it anyway.
 
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** Image removed - you can still make out the explicit language **
Made me think of this
 
Soldato
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Taking people down a few pegs on facebook is always good fun, the fact that all of their friends can see the humiliation gives some interesting comments :D


Back OT:

Its shocking to see how few people can actually accurately use statistics. I think a lot of it stems from the media, who are often happy to misrepresent statistics in order to support their own agendas
 
Soldato
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The ONS has been doing it for years, nobody seems to mind.

Statistical analysis is an amazing tool when used correctly & interpreted by people with the level of understanding/education required to determine trends.

Sadly in most cases it's simply misinterpreted by people who wish to add a "statistical seal of approval" for a given agenda.

A personal favourite of mine is "average earnings" which is often used in the wrong context by reports/media & news as people think it's somehow representative of common earnings.

You should really only use averages for a data-set with a standard distribution/falls within a bell curve - income in the UK is highly slanted (population wise) to the bottom end.

To put it into context.

You have a society with 10 people.

All of which earn 1000 each - the average wage is £1000.

You have another society with 10 people.

9 of which earn £1 each & one earns £9,991 - the average wage is £1000.

The mode for society 1 is £1000 for society 2 it's £1.

A lack of understanding of basic statistics is all too common.
 
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