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What are examples of misuse of statistics?

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According to an article from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, one way statistics are misused is when businesses infer false information from data gained during the course of their business, creating errors that cost time and money. Errors like this arise when an entity performs statistical research but fails to address all the components involved in the subject they are researching.

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The misuse of statistics can be accidental or purposeful. Those with malicious intent sometimes misuse statistics in order to mislead their audience about a subject, a tactic that creates vast social issues and misunderstandings that last for years.

Misusing statistics is a broader problem than being a tool for the malicious. Scientists and other individuals that rely heavily on analysis and research often find themselves fooled by misused statistics. This creates errors in their experiments or other works, and leads to problems both minor and major.

Statistics are sometimes cherry picked for positive results, creating a false image of the final product. A survey that creates biased opinions about a given subject produces negative results. Other times, if negative results are treated as inconclusive, unless specific reasons are given then the statistics are skewed to seem positive.

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Related Questions

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Experts use statistics to understand large and complex sets of data. Statistics are also helpful with surveys, which legislators use to affect policy. Knowing how statistics work is important for fully understanding news reports.

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Statistics is the study of numerical information, which is called data. People use statistics as tools to understand information. Learning to understand statistics helps a person react intelligently to statistical claims. Statistics are used in the fields of business, math, economics, accounting, banking, government, astronomy, and the natural and social sciences.

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According to San Jose State University, statistics helps researchers make inferences about data. Instead of just using raw data to explain observations, researchers use various statistical analyses to derive predictions and trends from large data sets. Scientists and professionals use statistics in a variety of disciplines and fields, including biological sciences, political science and engineering.