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Stat-Spotting : A Field Guide to Identifying Dubious Data



Pub. Date:
Univ of California Pr


Are four million women really battered to death by their husbands or boyfriends each year? Does a young person commit suicide every thirteen minutes in the United States? Is methamphetamine our number one drug problem today? Alarming statistics bombard our daily lives, appearing in the news, on the Web, seemingly everywhere. But all too often, even the most respected publications present numbers that are miscalculated, misinterpreted, hyped, or simply misleading. Following on the heels of his highly acclaimed Damned Lies and Statistics andMore Damned Lies and Statistics, Joel Best now offers this practical field guide to help everyone identify questionable statistics. Entertaining, informative, and concise, Stat-Spottingis essential reading for people who want to be more savvy and critical consumers of news and information. Stat-Spotting features: * Pertinent examples from today's news, including the number of deaths reported in Iraq, the threat of secondhand smoke, the increase in the number of overweight Americans, and many more * A commonsense approach that doesn't require advanced math or statistics

Author Biography

Joel Best is Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of Delaware.

Table of Contents

Getting Started
Spotting Questionable Numbers
Background B
Statistical Benchmarks B
Severity and Frequency
Varieties Of Dubious Data C. Blunders C
The Slippery Decimal Point C
Botched Translations C
Misleading Graphs C
Careless Calculations D. Sources: Who Counted-and Why? D
Big, Round Numbers D
Hyperbole D
Shocking Claims D
Naming the Problem E. Definitions: What Did They Count? E
Broad Definitions E
Expanding Definitions E
Changing Definitions E
The Uncounted F. Measurements: How Did They Count? F
Creating Measures F
Odd Units of Analysis F
Loaded Questions F
Raising the Bar F
Technical Measures G. Packaging: What Are They Telling Us? G
Impressive Formats G
Misleading Samples G
Convenient Time Frames G
Peculiar Percentages G
Selective Comparisons G
Statistical Milestones G
Averages G
Epidemics G
Correlations G
Discoveries H. Debates: What If They Disagree? H
Causality Debates H
Equality Debates H
Policy Debates
Stat-Spotting On Your Own
Summary: Common Signs Of Dubious Data
Better Data Some Characteristics
Afterword If You Had No Idea Things Were That Bad They Probably Aren't
Suggestions for Those Who Want to Continue Stat-Spotting
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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