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“Are there benefits to gaining a strong statistical background?”
September 30, 2011, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Statistics are a powerful tool for condensing  and analising large quantites of data.   They are standardised techniques that are recognisable and understood throughout the scientific community.  They enable information to be presented and interpreted in both an accurate and informative way.   A strong statistical background for a study can give evidence to either  support or refute a hypothesis.   But be aware statistics can be manipulated.  The advertsing industry is a perfect example of this (see link below.)

htt.p://lipstick-and-pearls.blogspot.com/2011/07/how-cosmetic-adverts-manipulate-sample.html

As the link shows one method of manipulation, a small sample size is not representative to the entire population.   The Avon study consisted of 52 participants,  75% of whom agree with the products claims.  This relates to  39 of the 52 participants .  Therefore with a UK population of 60,000,000, only 0.000065% of women in the UK agree with the products’ claims.  The smaller the sample size, the less people need to agree to produce a large percentage.

Statistics are often selectively reported with a bias towards data that supports the hypothesis while omitting  other data  that contradicts the hypothesis.  Often inferences and conclusions are much more sweeping than statistical analysis surgests.  Researchers and reviewers should consider the bigger picture taking  into account all the procedings of a study from the research methods used, participants, analysis and interpretation of data and also who is conducting the research and who has commisioned the research.  So with this bigger  picture in mind  a strong statistical background goes along way to lending strength to a therory.

 

 

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