Misleading Statistics

Misleading Statistics
Statistics are powerful and convincing when used properly. This feature of statistical reasoning, however, also makes them liable to misuse. In this week’s assignment, you will find a legitimate statistic and explain how it might be used to mislead an audience.

· Start by searching the internet for a reliable statistic. Make sure the statistic you find comes from an original or primary source – whether it be a peer-reviewed article, think-tank, or other organization. Do not use news articles that report the findings of a study; use the original study itself. Please remember to cite your source.
· After you locate your statistic, explain how it might be used to mislead an audience into embracing conclusions that the statistic does not support by playing the role of someone who is trying to lie with statistics.
· Design a fake advertisement or news story in which you will try to use the statistic in question to make a persuasive point.
o Your advertisement or story can consist of a written document, graphic, or video.
o Whatever you decide to do, you should feature a depiction or description of the statistic and an explanation of how it might be used to support a misleading agenda.
· After creating your fake advertisement or news story, include a short one paragraph statement on why it is misleading and what can be done to avoid being misled by it.

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You are NOT finding a data source and critiquing its validity or reliability
•Your goal is to analyze the techniques for manipulating statistics covered in W5 by means of your own mock news story or advertisement
•You are starting with good data and manipulating it to tell a technically true but misleading story.

Examples:

Absolute numbers vs percentages
Messing around with graphs: playing with the x/y axis, selective cutoffs,

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