Bad Statistics

We will discuss how a misunderstanding of statistics can lead to very unskeptical thinking.

Humans are inherently bad at judging risk and the probability of events. This can lead to belief in the supernatural, psychics, and 'fate'.

Even scientists fall foul to bad statistics, and a basic understanding of how statistics work can help weed out the good studies from the bad.

We'll be keeping this very light, 'statistics minus the numbers' :) There will be fun demonstrations of bad statistics in action, and we'll outline some basic concepts and ideas to arm you against the next person who claims that they must be psychic because they can predict who is calling when the phone rings.

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  • Linda Thomas

    First time attending Atlanta Skeptics - enjoyed the discussions

    August 18

  • Carly Sturgeon

    Great! I had a really good time!

    August 17

  • A former member
    A former member

    Where is the group

    August 17

    • Shaune

      We meet in the north avenue room at Manuels tavern. Go in the front door turn right and go all the way back.

      August 17

  • Aaron Mercer

    Anybody in Lawrenceville area able to give me a ride? Just found out my car isn't working. :(
    Please call or text me if you can help: [masked]

    August 17

  • Jason B

    I know there isn't much time left, but if anyone would like to carpool to Manuals with me, I live in North Druid Hills near Toco Hills. Let me know. I can pick you up or vice versa depending on logistics. Thanks [masked]

    August 17

  • Tom Taylor

    "It ain't ignorance causes so much trouble; it's folks knowing so much that ain't so." - Josh Billings. “The problem is not ignorance, but preconceived ideas.” - Hans Rosling, likely borrowed from Steve Hawking: "The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge." All the same idea. So it is with many, perhaps most, published statistics. The generally-accepted inference is not a correct inference from the observations or measurements, the statistics, cited. The media and politicians do not help this.
    Woefully, I can't make this discussion, but it is a GREAT topic, especially for skeptics. As a professional statistician, I can attest that I spend a large part of my professional consultations trying to keep otherwise competent physicians and scientists from drawing the wrong conclusions from their research. It's all in the numbers. And it's hiding.

    August 17

  • Nick Duncan

    I might be able to make it. i am stuck at work right now

    August 17

  • Zak Hussain

    Sorry wont be able to make it

    August 17

  • Maryam

    Sorry I can't come! I forgot I had other plans. Next time!

    August 16

  • Tom Taylor

    The average person is pretty dumb. HALF of them are dumber than that.

    1 · August 15

    • Joshua Havelka

      I think the real threat to the normality assumption is the independence assumption. Basically, I can impact your intelligence (I hope for the better). This effect has an even stronger impact with social media because people can change each others views of the world quickly. Ironically, bad statistics itself can cause mass unintelligence.

      August 16

    • Dave Goldsman

      You can still have a normal distribution even if the observations are correlated. :) Independence is usually required to perform hypothesis tests and construct confidence intervals.

      August 16

  • Steve

    “If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson. As a voracious reader of mostly non-fiction (I did read The Warren Report), I couldn't agree more. Anyone?

    And to think it all started with "Fun With Dick & Jane."

    August 16

  • Derek Colanduno

    Can't have the last Dragon Con Directors meeting that evening!

    August 16

  • HarryJ

    Interesting comments about the average person..............yet you must remember the herding instinct.

    August 16

  • HarryJ

    Look forward to it!

    August 14

  • Joshua Havelka

    I just joined the group, and I'm excited for this event. I'm a property/casualty actuary who works with statistics a lot. When someone gives me statistics, I'm always skeptical. You have to be careful when working with statistics because there can be a lot of logical pitfalls. There are groups of people who are oblivious to these logical pitfalls, and they can end up making blunders. And then there are other groups, like in advertising, who use these pitfalls to deceive.

    August 12

  • A former member
    A former member

    This will be a really good topic. Sorry I can't be there.

    August 11

  • Kathy

    I can't figure out how to vote for the topic of my choice on the Facebook page. I can get to the page, and I see the two choices, but neither topic's button is operational for me. Suggestions, please.

    August 1

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